Saving Money on Prescription Drugs

When you buy medicines, keep in mind these ways to help cut costs:

  • Find out if your health plan offers mail-order pharmacy service. You can often get a 90-day supply of medicines mailed to you, which costs less because you pay 1 co-pay instead of 3.
  • Ask your doctor if generic drugs can be used to treat your health problems. Generics are proven equivalents to brand name drugs and often cost much less than brand name drugs. Some health plans charge lower co-pays for generic drugs.
  • Take all your medicines with you to each health care appointment, and review them with your doctor to see if you still need everything you’re taking.
  • Use free samples with caution. Talk with your doctor about future treatment plans before you accept free samples – they may lead to an expensive brand name prescription later.

Online comparisons and coupons. Check online at or to shop for the best price on each prescription drug at stores in your area. You can use these free websites whether or not you have insurance coverage. They also offer coupons that you can use to get even lower prices. This can be very helpful if you don’t have drug coverage.

If you do have insurance coverage, you can still compare prices, but you might not be able to use the coupon if you plan to use your insurance to help pay for the drug. The GoodRx website warns that the price you pay won’t count against your plan’s yearly deductible, and it’s unclear about whether it can count against your out-of-pocket maximum. Read the coupon terms carefully. It might still be worth using it if your drug cost with the coupon is lower than your insurance co-pay, but it might not if you have a high-deductible insurance plan and the deductible hasn’t been met for the year. If you still want to use a coupon from one of these sites, check with your insurance plan and see if they’ll count what you spend on the drug against your yearly deductible and out-of-pocket maximum. If your plan says “yes,” you’ll have to send them detailed receipts.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team

Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Last Medical Review: March 28, 2017 Last Revised: June 12, 2017

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