If you do your homework, you can save a significant amount of money on your prescription medications (not to mention other drug store purchases like shampoo!).
Buy Meds at Costco, Even if You're Not A Member
Members-only discount warehouses like Costco often have great prices for prescription drugs. And you do not need to be a Costco member in order to use its pharmacy. For example, 30 tabs of the insomnia medicine Ambien at 12.5 mg costs about $173 at Costco, and about $212 at CVS in Manhattan. Another good big-box option may be chain supermarkets. Stop & Shop is selling 90-day supplies of some of the most common generic prescriptions, for only $10.
Call for a Quote
Before you fill a prescription, call a few pharmacies for price quotes. You can also check online at sites like DestinationRx. Many states have their own price comparison sites: Michigan's cost-comparison site, Florida's government-sponsored site, and New York's Department of Health resource are just a few. We looked at two pharmacies near New York University; one sold 28 tabs of the birth control Ortho Tri-Cyclen LO for $53, while the other cost $96! That's $43 in savings, per month. Note that we found some outdated information on these government-sponsored sites, so always call to confirm.
Now, throw Walmart into the mix: At the superstore's pharmacy, you can get Tri-Sprintec, the generic of Ortho Tri-Cyclen, for only $9! Plus, if you're a city person who lives far from the store, you can order online and have it delivered. (Keep reading for more on mail-order prescriptions.)
Go to the Pharmaceutical Company's Website
Often, the websites for specific medicines will provide coupons and even free samples. Check out this coupon for $35 off Differin, an acne medicine.
Get Rewards on Drug Store Purchases
This one's simple: Sign up for the customer rewards program at your local drugstore. If you sign up for the CVS ExtraCare Rewards Program, you can earn 2% back from every purchase, plus an extra CVS Buck for every two prescriptions you fill there. Easy.
Mail Order Prescriptions
Ordering your prescriptions online can save you money because doing so often allows you to buy in bulk and at a discount. Walmart's online pharmacy allows you to buy 90 days' worth of the allergy medicine Loratadine for $10, whereas the same amount would cost you about $36 at a Manhattan CVS. Ordering online is a particularly helpful option if you live far from a discount pharmacy, or in an area with expensive prices.
Check Out Prescription Drug Discount Cards
While some discount programs have a monthly or annual fee for use, FreeDrugCard.us costs nothing and can save you up to 75% on your prescription drugs costs. It's even recommended by the Office of the Insurance Commissioner in Washington State.
Don't Succumb to Marketing
Did you know that, on the whole, products targeted at women are priced higher than those aimed at men? If the pink bottle of shampoo costs 50% more than the green one from the same brand...well, it's up to you.
Be Aware of Cold Care Rip-Offs
Some homeopathic remedies might work, but we've compiled a few products you should NOT waste your money on when you're sick.
Always Ask if Your Med is Available in Generic
Read our article for more information on why we love generic drugs. Savings example: At a Walgreens in Manhattan, the seasonal allergy medicine Flonase costs about $108, whereas its generic form is only $70. Nearly $40 every time you fill that prescription will add up to a big deal.
Stick to the Cosmetics That are Good and Cheap
We don't like spending a lot of money on beauty products, especially when we can get nearly everything we need at the drug store. Okay, we admit it: Buying these under-$8 beauty products won't help you save on your drug store bill, but it will help you save money overall.
With a little investigative work, you can save some significant cash at the pharmacy...so you won't feel ill when you check your bank statement.
*Savings by comparison shopping for 28 tabs of Ortho Tri-Cyclen LO, assuming one tab per day for the duration of the year. Please consult your doctor for actual prescription information.
**If you are 25 today and retire at age 65. We calculated that number here.