Guess what—you are paying more than you need to for your prescription drugs and even the over-the-counter medicine you take. Did you know that by just using a few easy tools and doing some cost comparison, you might be able to save up to 80 percent on these costs? That sort of savings is just what the doctor ordered, so keep reading to find out how it’s possible.
If you were going to buy a car, or a television, or even basic groceries, you would probably do some sort of price comparison, right? We read online reviews, set price alerts, and sift through the coupon section of the newspaper. So why then do we treat medical expenses so differently? Is it because we can’t keep up with the doctor’s jargon, or do we just assume that we are getting the best deal from our insurance?
And speaking of insurance, what if you don’t have any? Then you really feel like your back is against the wall. Luckily, that isn’t as true as it feels. In today’s world, information is just a few clicks away, and while doctors rightfully ask you not to Google your symptoms (I’m looking at you, hypochondriacs), you should DEFINITELY be leveraging technology to research your medications, especially their prices.
This will allow you to reap significant rewards and bring some much needed relief to your budget. And you don’t have to stop at traditional medical costs—the methods we are going to discuss here can also be used to save on medicine for your furry friend, helping you to keep pet care costs low.
Best Tools to Use
There are a few tools on the market now that can help you make informed decisions when purchasing medicine. The ones we will discuss are all apps but are also available in desktop format. These have been reviewed by Consumer Reports as well, and our favorite, like theirs, is GoodRx. Let’s cover some of these in more detail.
GoodRx makes it easy to compare prices and find a good deal. You enter the details of the presctiption, and it does the rest of the work. It will show you the pharmacies in your area that carry the drug, along with their prices. The app is available on Android or iPhone, and at the time of this article has a 4.5 star rating (out of 5) with over 12,000 reviews on Google Play.
If you’re not a big app user, the company also mails out paper cards. These are like discount cards that you can show at pharmacies, doctor’s offices, and veterinary clinics to get discounts. If you want some anecdotal evidence, my uncle recently took his sick dog to the vet, where he was prescribed medication that would cost roughly $50 for a one month supply ($600 a year). But when he used his GoodRx discount card, he was able to find the same drug for $11 per month instead, bringing his yearly total down to $132.
WeRx is another cost comparison app that allows you to search for prescriptions by zip code. In the Consumer Reports study it found “slightly higher prices” than GoodRx but still seemed to work well and is generally reviewed positively. The desktop version of the site appears less robust and there is no physical discount card available.
Like GoodRx, Lowest Med has a relatively robust desktop site and app. In fact, Consumer Reports found that its app more consistently found prices for over-the-counter medicines and was competitive with the low prescription prices that GoodRx found. There is also a discount card which is easy to obtain. The one catch with LowestMed is that some have complained about its “sort by distance” feature. While manually determining just how far a pharmacy is away from you might mean a little more legwork, it could lead to more savings, so be sure to add this tool to your arsenal.
Our friends over at SaberesPoder have also created a tool to help you compare prescription drug costs, and it’s specifically designed for Spanish-speaking consumers. The tool is called FarmaSep and, and it’s available in a desktop version here.
What about other Medical Costs?
These apps are best used for researching drug prices, but you might be wondering about how to research other medical prices as well. For instance, basic operations like a colonoscopy can vary in price by hundreds of dollars between doctors who work within a small radius. Here are a few more suggestions for other resources, and you can read about them in more detail in our post about negotiating medical expenses:
- Healthcare Bluebook – With this resource, you can search by zip code and select from categories such as hospital care and procedures, physician services, X-rays, lab work and more.
- CMS.gov – You can use this website to help find the Medicare cost for many services. Then, you can use this information as leverage and bargaining power to get yourself a lower price.
- Negotiated Payment Plans – In general, you should work with your provider to create a payment arrangement that is realistic for your financial situation. This is easy to do, and it’s a main reason why you should never put medical bills on a credit card.
Hopefully you can use these tools to pay more toward medical expenses so that both your physical and financial health is able to improve. If you need more assistance with managing medical bills and creating a stable financial situation, remember that our credit counselors can work with you for free.