Most consumers are aware that they can save money on costly medications by asking their doctor to prescribe generic equivalents. Here are five additional cost-cutting techniques:
* Ask for free samples. Doctors are deluged with samples from manufacturers. You might get a week or more of an expensive drug for free. Just make sure to check expiration dates.
* Use mail order, when appropriate. But only with drugs that you're familiar with, because you will not have the benefit of a face-to-face meeting with the pharmacist.
* Don't let your insurance company impose limits on prescription length. Ask your doctor to substitute "take as directed" instead of "take once a day," making it more likely that your entire prescription will be covered. Note dosage frequency on the bottle yourself.
* Avoid time-release formulations, which are more costly, in exchange for the convenience of taking the medication less frequently.
* Look into patient-assistance programs. Such programs are offered by most pharmaceutical makers but rarely publicized. Contact the manufacturer to ask whether your financial hardship circumstances qualify you for free medication. (Usually, the only documentation required is a note from the doctor.)
Source: Donald Sullivan, "Consumer's Guide to Drugs"