In a recent AARP poll of Nevadans older than 50; more than a third cited economic concerns and health issues as their top challenges. In these tight economic times, many people have to make difficult choices on how to spend their budget dollars, especially those on fixed incomes. Even if you're not choosing between filling prescriptions, buying groceries or heating your home-saving money on prescription drugs makes good sense. Skipping medication, splitting pills, or even sharing medicine with a family member can do more harm than good. It can be life-threatening to skimp on medications; looking for ways to stretch your dollars is much safer than stretching your prescription.
Here are some great, risk-free ways to save on your prescriptions:
Explore your options with AARP's drug savings tool
You can find information about the safety, effectiveness, and price of your prescription drugs, directly from the Consumer Reports Health Best Buy Drug database at www.aarp.org/drugsavings. This drug savings tool provides a list of similar, less costly options for most prescription drugs. You can print the list of recommendations to discuss with your doctor.
After a medication has been on the market and the patent expires, a generic product may become available. Generic drugs are the same as name-brand medicine in dose, strength, and safety - yet they are about one-third the price. Talking to your doctor or pharmacist can help you make the decision whether generics are right for you.
Learn more about qualifying for Medicare discounts
If you're on Medicare, you can use AARP's Doughnut Hole Calculator (www.aarp.org/doughnuthole) to learn how to avoid the coverage gap, or doughnut hole, where you have to pay all your prescription costs. On the site, we provide you with tools that will help you talk to your doctor about medication alternatives that may save you money. A new resource is also offered because of the new health care law; Medicare Part D recipients who reach the coverage gap or "doughnut hole" will now get a 50 percent discount on brand-name prescription drugs at the time of purchase.
Order drug comparison guides
Print guides from AARP and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality can help you compare the benefits, side effects, and costs of medication to treat specific health conditions. Order your free online guide(s) at www.aarp.org/healthorderform, or call AARP toll-free 1-888-OUR-AARP to request copies of our drug comparison guides for a variety of medical conditions.
Make lifestyle changes
Everyone knows that they could do better with diet and exercise. Talking with your doctor about lifestyle habits, such as exercise and healthy eating, could be the push you need to make lifestyle changes that could reduce your need for certain medications.
Shop for medication discounts
Consider a getting Nevada's prescription discount card or fill your prescription through mail order to reduce the cost of your medications. The State of Nevada prescription drug card can save you roughly 30 percent on the cost of many drugs, www.nevadadrugcard.com. You also may qualify for help through www.rxhelp4nv.org. Call Governor's Office for Consumer Health Assistance at 1(888) 333-1597 for details. The Governor's Office for Consumer Health Assistance also offers a list of Canadian Pharmacies which are approved by Nevada for purchase of prescription drugs, which can be found at http://govcha.state.nv.us/index.htm.
Be your own advocate
Another way to save money is to make sure you're taking the appropriate medications. Sometimes one drug will react with another; which can create side effects that could be mistaken as additional medical conditions. We suggest you print a copy of AARP's personal medication record (www.aarp.org/medicationrecord), add all of your medications and take the list to your doctor(s) and pharmacist(s). Let them know that cost is a concern and that you want to make sure that all of the medication is critical to your good health.
Exploring your medication choices can save you money. Just remember, becoming your own medication manager - in partnership with your doctor and pharmacist - can ensure that you use prescription drugs safely and effectively.
AARP drug comparison guide
Call 1-888-OUR-AARP and request a free copy of any of the guides listed below. You will need the shown D-number(s) when you place your order. The second D number is for Spanish copies.
Depression [English D19183, Spanish D19382]
Osteoarthritis [English D19187, Spanish D19339]
Blood Pressure [English D19186, Spanish D19385]
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease [English D19182, Spanish D19384]
Breast Cancer [English D19286, Spanish D19457]
Osteoporosis [English D19188, Spanish D19381]
Type 2 Diabetes (Pills) [English D19185, Spanish D19380]
Type 2 Diabetes (Insulin) [English D19287, Spanish D19459]
Rheumatoid Arthritis [English D19181, Spanish D19383]
High Cholesterol [English D19184, Spanish D19458]