Medicare prescription drug costs – How to avoid sticker shock at the pharmacy

Not all surprises are good, especially at the pharmacy counter. Get tips for saving money on your medicines this year.

You wake up on Jan. 1 to a new year, full of new possibilities and with it, a new amount you have to pay for your medicines before your health or drug plan helps. This is called your deductible. Your deductible resets at the beginning of each year and is the amount you’ll need to pay before your insurance kicks in.

Read on for tips about how to prepare when you are at the pharmacy counter and unexpectedly have to pay full price for your medicines.

Try these tips to avoid sticker shock

  • Check your coverage. Call your insurance company to make sure your plan covers your medicines, and check whether your plan’s deductible has changed.
  • Ask your insurance company if you can get better prices on medicines at a different pharmacy, by ordering through the mail, or by getting a different amount (like a 90-day supply instead of 30).
  • Talk to your doctor about ways to save money on your medicines. You might be able to switch from a brand-name medicine to a generic, lower the amount you take (your dosage), or even stop taking a medicine that you may no longer need.
  • Ask local pharmacies how much they charge for your medicines and whether they have a payment plan, discounts or a rewards program that can help you save money.

Prepare now for next year’s reset

The good thing is now you know your deductible resets each year. Planning for your medicine costs to be higher at the beginning of the year can help you budget.

  • Know your deductible. Remind yourself how much you have to pay for medicines out of pocket before your plan will help. Look at your online account or call your insurance company if you’re not sure.
  • Estimate when you’ll reach your deductible. If you take a medicine regularly, figure out about how long you’ll be paying full price for medicines before your plan starts to share the cost.
  • Work it into your budget. Based on your deductible and timing, put away some money each month toward your medicine costs for early next year. It’ll help even out your budget.