medicine costs and what to do about them......

Discussion in 'General Health & Wellness' started by SeniorTech, Jul 8, 2010.

  1. SeniorTech

    SeniorTech New Member

    www.freeusadrugplan.com/u170---website offers a free printable drug discount card

    Anyone who takes prescription medications is aware that medications are expensive. For those taking several medications, the monthly expense can amount to a few hundred dollars. Will discuss several ways to reduce the costs for medications.


    How do I eliminate unnecessary medications?

    The first step in reducing costs for medications is to eliminate unnecessary medications. To do this, you must know why you are taking each medication, what results to expect from taking it, and how long you should take it. If the medication does not do what it is supposed to within a reasonable amount of time, you should consult your healthcare provider about discontinuing the medication or trying alternative medications. There is no reason to take medications that provide no benefit. Individuals sometimes continue to refill prescriptions for medications that they should no longer be taking. The inappropriateness of continuing the medication may not be noticed until the prescription is no longer refillable, usually one year after it is written, and the pharmacist calls the health care practitioner for a new prescription. By then, a lot of money may have been wasted.

    Duplication of medications is another potential problem. This usually happens when a patient receives a prescription for similar medications from different physicians. In addition to the unnecessary costs, there may be risks to taking two similar medications. To avoid these unnecessary medication-related expenses, it is a good idea to ask your health care practitioner and pharmacist to review your medications periodically.

    Herbal medications (alternative medications), nutritional supplements, and vitamins are very popular. Most individuals do not need these products and in most cases they have not been proven to be effective for the conditions for which they are used. They can interact with other medications, cause side effects, and also be expensive. Before purchasing these products, you should ask your health care practitioner about their safety and effectiveness. If they do not provide additional benefit, there is no need to purchase them.


    What about the use of combination products?

    Several conditions, such as hypertension (high blood pressure) and diabetes, are treated with more than one medication at a time. Several pharmaceutical companies manufacture medications that combine two of the most frequently used medications. These combinations are convenient, since only one pill must be taken, which may enhance compliance with taking the medications. Moreover, some combinations may be less expensive than the individual drugs.


    Are generic drugs as good as brand names?

    In most instances, generic drugs work as well as the brand name drugs. Unless your health care practitioner advises against the use of the generic product, it will be less expensive to use the generic product. All too often, individuals purchase the more expensive brand name drug because they believe that the generic equivalent is inferior. In most states, as long as the prescriber does not indicate otherwise, pharmacists are required by law to substitute generic products for brand name products.


    Can I cut my pills?
    Many drugs come in higher and lower strength tablets. If the price of a tablet that is twice the strength of a lower strength tablet is less than twice the price of the lower strength tablet, it is less costly to buy the higher strength tablet. A pill cutter can then be used to cut the pills in half. For example, if the cost of the 40 mg tablet is $1.50 and the cost of the 20 mg tablet is $1.00, it is less expensive to buy and split the 40 mg tablet than it is to buy the 20 mg tablet ($0.75 verses $1.00). This strategy only works, however, for tablets that can be split.


    Is comparison shopping worth it?

    Drugs are similar to other goods that we purchase, and pharmacies compete with one another. Therefore, it makes sense to compare prices among pharmacies. In some instances, mail order or Internet pharmacies offer better prices than local pharmacies. Some medical plans offer reduced co-payments when drugs are purchased through their mail order or Internet pharmacy.


    Do pharmaceutical companies have programs for those that cannot afford medication?

    Major pharmaceutical companies may have programs that provide free medication to individuals who cannot afford them. There are income limitations and forms that have to be completed by a health care provider. If there is such a program and you cannot afford your medications, it is worth the effort to convince your health care provider to complete the necessary forms. These programs are a way for pharmaceutical companies to give back to the community, but they are under-utilized.


    What about lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise?

    The best way to reduce the costs of medications is to not develop the disease in the first place. Lifestyle plays a role in the development and the management of many diseases. For example, a recent study showed that moderate exercise and a proper diet could reduce the development of type 2 diabetes. In addition, proper diet and exercise improves the control of hypertension and diabetes and reduces the need for medications. Lifestyle modifications require commitment, but they can reduce the need for medication and the medication costs.

  2. TwoCatDoctors

    TwoCatDoctors New Member

    I have a gut feeling you are not from ProHealth even though you listed yourself as "Senior Tech" which is misleading here. I'm a little surprised at some of the things you have stated in your post. You don't reference where these ideas have come from and I have a gut feeling they are your thoughts. We can add many things to help you update your thoughts. We also have a sticky at the top for free/low cost medical/prescription help.

    Under "How do I eliminate unnecessary medications?" you spoke of duplicate medications from doctors a patient may be seeing and ways to avoid that. You completely missed the most obvious answer many doctors are requesting. The doctors that I see are absolutely insisting upon and requesting a list of medications, supplements and over the counters, from patients so they know what you are taking, what other others doctors are prescribing, what strengths, and if what they may intend to prescribe may conflict with the existing prescriptions, supplements, etc. Remember, malpractice insurance is expensive and they must know what you are taking in order to effectuate the visit and treat you. They are then placing all that info on their computers and verify it at each visit--in fact the Obama Administration gave funds to medical offices that moved their medical records from paper to computer, so most medical offices jumped to computer to take advantage of those funds and nurses and doctors may be on the computer during your visit. Although it is definitely helpful for the pharmacy to know what you are taking so they can cross check meds--it is absolutely VITAL that the physician you visit have that information updated for each visit.

    You also stated: "Herbal medications (alternative medications), nutritional supplements, and vitamins are very popular. Most individuals do not need these products and in most cases they have not been proven to be effective for the conditions for which they are used. They can interact with other medications, cause side effects, and also be expensive. Before purchasing these products, you should ask your health care practitioner about their safety and effectiveness. If they do not provide additional benefit, there is no need to purchase them."

    It sounds like it is your personal opinion that supplements are not proven effective for the conditions for which they are used. There are studies of osteoporosis and taking prescription osteoporosis medications with calcium and vitamin D supplements and the effectiveness of this treatment. Maybe you didn't realize this. If you go on the internet, you can probably find other studies--like how over the counter Aleve can increase the effectiveness of prescription Imitrex for treating migraines

    You said: "Can I cut my pills? Many drugs come in higher and lower strength tablets. If the price of a tablet that is twice the strength of a lower strength tablet is less than twice the price of the lower strength tablet, it is less costly to buy the higher strength tablet. A pill cutter can then be used to cut the pills in half. For example, if the cost of the 40 mg tablet is $1.50 and the cost of the 20 mg tablet is $1.00, it is less expensive to buy and split the 40 mg tablet than it is to buy the 20 mg tablet ($0.75 verses $1.00). This strategy only works, however, for tablets that can be split."

    The health plans that I was involved with when working and not working refused to follow this way of prescribing and probably because it risks overdose if the person doesn't remember to cut the pills in half (and people have brain fog, are in pain ,etc.) and if you think about it, doubling the pill and asking it be cut in half is not the prescription from the doctor. The doctor is prescribing 20 mg. pills which exist-- and not 40 mg. cut in half. In fact my pharmacy is so particular now that to obtain three months of a prescription, my doctors must write "okay to fill for three months" on the prescription itself, otherwise they will fill for 30 days only. I think it's getting tighter in the prescription world and pharmacists are less willing to place themselves in a position where they could be held liable for malpractice if any problem occurs because they did not fill exactly as written by the doctor. In fact, the doctors in my state have to indicate if it is okay to prescribe a generic otherwise we can't get a generic. That's how tight it is.

    How about unwinding and joining us for some actual discussion--pick a board. There's lots of good information on these boards and lots of good people. You would like it here and not have to post pretty well the same thing on each board and instead get to actually meet wonderful people who may have the same ailments as you. Take care and