NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


December 18, 2009

People often assume they have little control over how much they spend on health care.  After all, sickness cannot be scheduled, doctors prescribe treatments and employers provide health coverage to more than 60 percent of Americans.  However, there are many overlooked ways to trim your health costs and still get the care you need, says Devon Herrick, a health economist with the National Center for Policy Analysis.

Cut your prescription costs by asking questions, doing research and making some phone calls.  This can make a significant dent in your drug bill, says Herrick:

  • There can be options for treating some medical conditions with more than one specific drug; always ask your doctor about therapeutic substitutes and/or generics.
  • Of course, large name pharmacies now offer $4 monthly and $10 quarterly costs for many drugs.
  • Mind your co-pay rate; these low prices are sometimes less than your drug plan's co-pay, so make sure you pay the lesser rate.
  • You can compare prices among local pharmacies and reputable Websites by calling or Googling your prescribed dose; for example, or have free pharmaceutical cost comparisons.

If a brand name drug is best for your particular condition, ask your doctor about free samples:

  • It's unusual for free samples to be available for generic drugs; the samples are promotional tools for newer, more expensive drugs.
  • Also, check the drug manufacturer's website for each of your prescribed drugs; many manufacturers now post discount offers, coupons, rebates and cost assistance programs.

Don't be afraid to ask your doctor or pharmacist about over-the-counter options:

  • There may be drugs or even diagnostic tests that can help manage some temporary and chronic illnesses, and cost a lot less than prescriptions.
  • In fact, nearly one-thousand current OTC drugs were once available only by prescription.
  • These include allergy remedies, pain relievers and heartburn medications.

Source: Devon Herrick, "Six Ways to Slash Your Health Costs," National Center for Policy Analysis, December 17, 2009.

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