Cutting down costs: How to save money on medication

Nov 29, 2019
Medication can be quite pricey, but there are ways to reduce costs. Source: Getty

As you age your health generally declines and you’re required to take more medications to manage your condition. Unfortunately, this means your wallet can take a big hit as you fork out money each month to afford different medicines.

But there is no need to put your retirement dreams to the side and dip into your savings, with plenty of ways to save money on medications without risking your health. From opting for generic medications, to buying a larger supply of the medicine at once – paying full price will be a thing of the past.

Buy generic

Generic medications have the same active ingredients as the brand-name alternatives, but are much cheaper. When you pick up your medication from the chemist, often they’ll ask if you’d like the generic option. However, if they don’t, it’s worth asking if there’s one available.

You can also question you doctor about generic options when you receive the script, they’ll also be able to tell you what is and isn’t available.

Get a bigger dosage

Some prescription medications have double dose options which can be divided with a pill splitter and used over two days. For example, you could get a 100mg pill that can be split into two 50 mg pills.

However, not all medications can be split, such as capsules, tablets that have a coating over them, or slow release medicines. Check with your doctor to see if your medication can be split.

Buy a larger supply

Instead of getting a month supply, ask your doctor if it’s possible to get a three-month supply. This is a viable option for those who are taking medications long term.

This will save you time and money, as you’ll have limited visits to the chemist to pick up your medication.

Ask about combination medicines

For some conditions, such as high blood pressure or diabetes, it’s common to take more than one type of medicine to manage the condition. Instead of having to take two or more pills, these medicines are sometimes combined into a single tablet.

Ask your doctor will have a good idea if there’s a combination medicine for your condition. If there’s one available it’s worth trying out – it will save you money and reduce the hassle of having to take multiple tablets each day.

Check if a PBS Safety Net applies

If your medication is listed under the government’s Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), you’ll already receive a discount on the full price. If you have a pensioner card, each medicine under the PBS will cost you $6.50, whereas for others on the scheme it’s up to $40.30.

There is a threshold set – $390 for concession card holders and $1,550.70 for non-concession card holders – however, once you reach these, you’ll be entitled to further discounts through the PBS Safety Net. In order to access the Safety Net arrangements, you need to maintain records of your PBS expenditure on a Prescription Record Form (PRF), which are available from all pharmacies.

Once you reach the Safety Net threshold, you’ll be required to apply for a PBS Safety Net card to receive further discounted medicines. Your medication will then be free, if you’re a concession card holder, or will cost up to $6.50 for everyone else on the scheme.

Make sure new medications are better

New medications may draw you in with their appealing packaging and promises to improve your condition, but sometimes they’ll have exactly the same effect as your current medication. The only reason you are charged more is because it’s new to the market.

Important information: The information provided on this website is of a general nature and for information purposes only. It does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. It is not financial product advice and must not be relied upon as such. Before making any financial decision you should determine whether the information is appropriate in terms of your particular circumstances and seek advice from an independent licensed financial services professional.

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