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6 Questions You Should Ask Your Pharmacist to Save Money

To get the best deal on your medication, try these simple conversation starters at the pharmacy counter (or over the phone).

6 Questions You Should Ask Your Pharmacist to Save Money

Photo credit: Jacob Lund/Shutterstock.com

By 

Michael Stanley, PharmD, CSP,   

Mar 25, 2020 • 3 min read

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Getting hit with a high price tag at the pharmacy can throw anyone for a loop. Especially when budgets are tight or you’re just starting a new treatment plan. 

The good news? Your pharmacist can help. Having worked in pharmacies for over 10 years, I can tell you that it pays to strike up a conversation with the person behind the counter. Below, I’ll walk you through six questions to ask that will have the biggest impact on your wallet.

1. What’s the Cash Price?

Most people don’t know that pharmacies offer retail, or cash prices. This is the price you pay out-of-pocket for any given prescription medication, versus the copay or coinsurance offered by a health insurance plan. If you think you’re getting the best deal with insurance, the truth is that your copay isn't always cheaper. For more savings tips on cash prices, keep reading.

2. Does Your Pharmacy Have a Discount Program?

Most pharmacies offer savings programs as a way to build customer loyalty. When evaluating these programs and the price for your medication, just be sure to ask about any monthly or annual membership fees. Walmart, Costco, and independent pharmacies offer some of the best deals at no extra charge. Publix even offers some antibiotics, diabetes, and high blood pressure medications for free. 

3. Is a Generic Available?

If you’re taking a brand medication, switching to a generic medication might be your best money-saving move. In fact, most states permit, and even require, pharmacists to offer generic equivalents—which can be just as effective–to consumers who present prescriptions for brand name medications. This is called generic substitution, and it can save you (and the U.S. healthcare system) a lot of money. Learn more about generics and how to decide if making the switch is right for you.

Tip: Be sure to check Blink Health when comparing cash prices and discounts for generic medications. You can use Blink at your local pharmacy, or get free delivery to your home.

4. Can I Schedule an MTM Session?

If you take multiple medications, especially those prescribed by different providers, you should ask about setting up a medication therapy management (MTM) visit with your pharmacist (you can also set one up over the phone). This includes a full review of all your medications, including nonprescription drugs, supplements, and vitamins. In some cases, your pharmacist may find that a particular medication may no longer be necessary at all. Anytime I complete an MTM session with one of my patients, I always check to see if there are lower-cost alternatives—whether that’s a savings program or a generic equivalent on a better formulary tier with their health plan. If you meet eligibility requirements, most sessions are free for those with health insurance and Medicare Part D. 

5. Is There a Manufacturer Discount?

If you need to stick with your brand name medication, I often direct patients to savings offered directly through the drugmaker. If your finances are tight, you may also be able to get a free supply by calling their customer service. Here are a few savings and patient assistance programs offered by three major insulin manufacturers.

  • Eli Lilly: Humalog, Humulin, Jardiance, and Trulicity.

  • Novo Nordisk: Novolog, Levemir, and Victoza. 

  • Sanofi: Admelog, Apidra, and Lantus. 

6. What About Nonprofit Assistance Programs?

For medications that may not have a manufacturer assistance program, nonprofits also can be a good resource. My three top resources for my patients are:

The bottom line: Sticker shock doesn’t have to ruin your day. When in doubt, lean on your pharmacist to help you manage your costs and keep your health on track.

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This article is not medical advice. It is intended for general informational purposes and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your physician or dial 911.

Blink Health is not insurance. The discount prescription drug provider is Blink Health Administration, LLC, 1407 Broadway, Suite 2100, New York, NY 10018, 1 (844) 265-6444, www.blinkhealth.com.

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Blink Health will always honor the price reflected at the time you purchased your medication. Your final price is based on the medication you pick up at the pharmacy. If you pick up a different form, dosage, or quantity, you will be charged or credited the difference. Blink Health reserves the right to cancel a transaction and refund you if the underlying cost of the prescription drug changes significantly after you have purchased your medication. Blink Health reserves the right to change its prescription drug prices in real time based on supply and demand trends and other factors. Any savings claims made by Blink are based on U.S. retail prices without prescription drug coverage. *Retail Prices (Cash Prices) vary among pharmacies. The Retail Prices displayed are estimates based on multiple sources, including price lists, historical claims and data provided by pharmacies. Our Price Match Guarantee covers generic drugs. Additional conditions apply. For more details visit our Price Match page. †Delivery may be subject to delays. Free shipping is available for most orders through USPS first class shipping. If an order is placed, or if a delivery period falls, on a USPS holiday, the delivery time window will be extended by additional days, as applicable. No deliveries on Sunday or USPS holidays. Home delivery orders ship from a licensed, US based pharmacy after a valid prescription has been received. No home delivery orders will ship without a valid prescription written by a prescriber. Blink Health's pharmacy team will transfer prescriptions from other pharmacies or prescribers. Home delivery orders may be subject to delays if those pharmacies or prescribers do not immediately respond to requests to transfer prescriptions to Blink Health's pharmacy team. ‡Promotional offer excludes opioids, E.D. (i.e. sildenafil, tadalafil and generics Viagra and Cialis) and hair loss medications (i.e. finasteride, generic Propecia), and any orders that include online doctor visits for E.D., hair loss, birth control, cold sores, high cholesterol or acid reflux. Cannot be combined with other offers. Blink Health is not sponsored by or affiliated with any of the pharmacies identified. The pharmacy trademarks and logos above are the property of their respective owners. Blink Health is not offering advice, recommending or endorsing any specific prescription drug, pharmacy or other information. Please seek medical advice before starting, changing or terminating any medication or prescription.

Disclosures: Blink Health is NOT insurance or a Medicare prescription drug plan. Users are obligated to pay the price presented during the checkout process. Blink Health is available to users at participating pharmacies only. No enrollment or periodic fees apply. Our address is 1407 Broadway, Suite 2100, New York, NY 10018, 1 (844) 265 - 6444, www.blinkhealth.com.