It’s a familiar tale. Nick Shade suffers from asthma; inhaler drugs are a necessity for his well being. He saves up to pay for his inhalers and makes way to his regular drugstore. Arriving at his favorite pharmacy once again, he finds the price of the inhaler has increased. The price is now out of his price range.
Change the name of the drug and the title of the illness and this is a situation many Americans have been in. Rising costs at the drugstore have made many have second thoughts when it comes to buying prescriptions. Even generic drugs (a long-time affordable alternative to branded prescriptions) have become a part of the issue in recent times.
The pace of the rise is also a significant concern. Drug expenses for Americans below 65 years of age are expected to increase 11.6 percent in 2017, or faster than the 11.3 percent increase in 2016. Older citizens won’t get a break either: their drug expenses are projected to rise 9.9 percent this year, compared with last year’s increase of 10.9 percent.
In contrast, wages are expected to increase only 2.5 percent in 2017. Factors that contributed to the increase in prices include delays in the manufacturing of foreign-sourced prescriptions, an increased demand for specific drugs, and raw material shortage. To keep things under control, employers are searching for ways to negotiate low rates, as well as tightening the list of covered prescriptions.
But here is the good news. While you can’t control the rise in drug prices, it’s relatively easy to avoid the sticker shock at the drugstore; you just have to know how. Here are some recommendations.
- Check Your Insurance Plan’s Drug Formulary
Drug formulary refers to the listing of prescription drugs in certain categories that determine how much the patient pays for the prescription. Reviewing the Top 100 drugs list and other similar resources, you can know what top drugs are filled via insurance and what top drugs are filled without insurance. For certain prescriptions, you may have to seek special approval. Take the list with you to help your pharmacist find an appropriate drug for your ailment at the lowest cost to you.
- Search for Patient Assistance Programs
Patient Assistance Programs or PAP offer low-cost or free prescriptions to individuals who can’t afford to purchase their own medicine. They are handy for both under-insured and uninsured patients. Drugs that qualify for these programs are usually expensive, so healthcare providers work with pharmaceuticals to design these programs and make the drugs available to public. For instance, those who don’t have insurance could be asked to pay more than $2,500 for Zyvox, however, PAP programs can drastically minimize out-of-pocket expenses (even to zero).
- Get NACo Card
I just heard about this one. This is a no-cost discount service for prescriptions. It’s accessible to anyone residing in eligible counties in the US. You can save more than 20 percent with a NACo card at the time of purchase if you’re without prescription coverage. Your healthcare provider may be able to educate you on the benefits of the program. Patients have to visit the official website of NACo and fill out a form. By entering the ZIP code, you can see if the area you reside in is covered by NACo. If your area qualifies, you can get the NACo card delivered to your doorstep free of charge. And while browsing their website, you can also check out other prescription drug discounts.
Follow these tips to avoid the sticker shock the next time you visit your pharmacist.