Clever Ways To Cut Your Prescription Drug Costs

Reduce your spending on medicines with these simple tips.

Even with private health insurance, out-of-pocket costs for prescription medicines can soon add up. But according to Dr Jill Thistlethwaite from NPS MedicineWise, there are many ways to save at the checkout. Here are a few cost-effective strategies to help you get started.

Switch To Generics

“You can save money by asking your pharmacist about generic medicines that contain the same active ingredient as the branded or non-prescription (over-the-counter) medicines you may currently be using,” Dr Thistlethwaite advises.

A generic medicine works in the same way as its brand-name version. But despite their cost-effectiveness, they’re not necessarily for everyone. “Some people shouldn’t switch between their medicine brands, so always speak with your doctor or pharmacist first,” she says.

Save money by asking your pharmacist about generic medicines. Image: Getty.
Show Your Medicare Card

If you’re an Australian resident and hold a current Medicare card then you’re eligible to receive benefits under the Pharmaceutical Benefit Scheme. This subsidises your medicines to make them more affordable so you can access them when you need them most.

“To get cheaper medicine when filling a prescription, show your Medicare card or make sure your pharmacy has your Medicare number of file, so you always get the PBS subsidised price for eligible medicines,” Dr Thistlethwaite explains.

Have Your Meds Reviewed

If you’ve been taking several medicines for some time, it’s important to regularly “check-in” with your trusted healthcare professional. This will reduce your risk of side effects and interactions, and prevent you from taking unnecessary doses.

“Stopping any unneeded medicines can also save you money and reduce your chances of medication problems,” Dr Thistlethwaite explains. That said, some medications should never be stopped suddenly. So always seek professional advice before changing your regular dose. If you have any concerns, talk to your GP.

Always seek professional advice before changing regular medication. Image: Getty.
Practice Being Medicine Wise

Medicines are an important part of health care and are necessary treatments for many people. But as Dr Thistlethwaite explains, there are conditions that can be treated effectively with non-medicine approaches. Being medicine wise starts with making good choices about when medicines are needed and when they’re not.

It might seem obvious, but asking your GP a few questions can determine whether a medication is right for you. “Ask your health professional questions to help you understand why a medicine may be needed, what the risks might be, and what other options are available,” she suggests.

Don’t Buy In Bulk

Lastly, don’t buy medicines, particularly creams and gels, in bulk. While it may seem cheaper in the long run, it’s never a good idea. “Medications have expiry dates and may need to be discarded safely before you have used all the contents,” Dr Thistlethwaite says.

Another common mistake people make is buying inferior medications online. Never buy prescription medications from online suppliers who don’t require a prescription. You should only buy your medicines from a recognised and trusted source, such as your local pharmacy. For more info, visit NPS MedicineWise.

Feature image: Getty.