Easy Ways To Cut Prescription Costs

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Whether around election time or throughout the year, health care is almost always a hot-button issue.

Typically, escalating health-care costs, and how to cap them for the benefit of all citizens, rest at the heart of the debate.

That health care is a topic of concern for so many should come as no surprise. According to data released in late summer of 2006, 46.6 million Americans were without health care in 2005. That's roughly 16 percent of the entire population, by far the largest number of uninsured citizens in the country's history. Among those uninsured are 8.3 million children, adding fuel to the fire that health care in the U.S. is in need of reform.

Even those who have health insurance are often forced to make difficult decisions, ones dictated by cost, rather than personal preference, convenience or, in some instances, need. Oftentimes, prescriptions can present a huge problem to those in need, as prescriptions are often an ongoing necessity, as opposed to a trip to the emergency room or a yearly visit to the physician. A variety of options exist to pare down prescription costs:

  • Buy generic medications: There's a reason pharmaceutical giants, such as Pfizer and Merck, don't look forward to the day their patents expire. Once that happens, others can make the same medications and sell them for a fraction of the cost, often at the expense of the larger pharmaceutical outlets' bottom lines. These drugs are called generics. Patients should be aware, however, that doctors often prescribe the designer drugs, and typically must be asked to prescribe generic versions. Unless your prescription is marked DAW (dispense as written), a pharmacist will substitute the generic form.
  • Ask for samples: In an effort to get physicians to prescribe their medications, many companies provide free samples to doctors. For short-term illnesses, some doctors may provide their patients with enough free samples to last the duration of the illness. It's important for patients to know as well that they're not guinea pigs in this scenario, where the drugs are being tested on them. All drugs must pass rigorous testing before they can be given out to the public. Samples can also be a good way to see what your reaction will be to a given drug, before you go and fill an entire prescription.
  • Inquire about expiration dates: Many a debate has gone on concerning the validity of prescription drug expiration dates. Some consumer advocacy groups have found that these expiration dates are often meaningless and that drugs can be taken long after their listed expiration date. However, anyone considering this should consult their physician first and foremost.

From Metro Creative Connection

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