Taking care of your mental and physical health shouldn’t break your bank account, but unfortunately, the cost of medications can be a financial stress. A study found that at least 60 per cent of Canadian households spend out-of-pocket money on prescription drugs. Not to worry though! We’ve put together a list of ways that you can save money on prescription drugs and make sure you’re staying healthy.

Get to Know Your Prescription Drug Coverage

When you’re looking at getting health coverage, choosing a plan with prescription drug coverage is key. Prescription medications can add up. You need to make sure you’re covered for anything you’re already taking and medications you may need in the future. A few things you should be looking for:

Formulary: Your health coverage provider should have a list of prescription drugs that they cover, called a formulary. Make sure you look it over.

Percentage covered: Take a look at your prescription drug coverage per person, per year. There’s usually a percentage of the cost that will be covered up to a certain amount.

Deductibles: Check what the deductible is that you will pay or if there are any at all.

Go for Generic vs Brand Name Drugs

Just like when you’re shopping for groceries or clothes, not everything you buy has to be a brand name. Choosing a generic option can save you money. You might be wondering: is there a difference between generic and brand name drugs? The answer is that generic medications have the same active ingredients as brand name medications. For our Replacement Health customers, we offer an easy online tool where you can quickly look up your prescription and find if there is a generic alternative.

Check-In with Your Doctor

Regular doctor visits are a must if you want to stay on top of your health. If you’re taking medications you should make sure you discuss these during your check-up. Make sure you’re reviewing what’s working and what isn’t and if there are other options. This will ensure you’re not taking anything you don’t need or that’s too expensive.  Some essential questions to ask:

What does my medication do?
This may seem obvious, but don’t be afraid to ask exactly what your medication does and why you need it.

What is the name of my medication?
You need to know exactly what you’re taking, especially if you need to give that information to another medical professional or your health coverage provider.

How long do I need to take it?
It can be dangerous to stop taking medication cold turkey, even if you’re feeling better. Checking with your doctor about how long you need to take the medication isn’t a bad idea.

How long will it take to feel the effects?
This can vary a lot depending on what you’re taking. It’s important to know so you can understand if the medication is working for you or not.

When will we review how it’s working?
A follow up with your doctor is a good plan so you can know if you need to increase or decrease your dosage or try something different.  

Follow the Medical Instructions

Not following your doctor’s prescription drug instructions can be costly and is called non-adherence in the medical community.  Cost-related nonadherence (CRNA) is a common form of this. It’s when you don’t take your medication when you should, not filling prescriptions on time or taking smaller doses – all to save money. This could not only jeopardize your health but can end up costing you more money in the end.

A report by the World Health Organization found that five per cent of Canadian hospital admissions and five per cent of physician visits were because people didn’t  follow medical advice - costing $4 billion in health care a year.

Do Some Cost Checking

To avoid being charged too much for prescriptions, your health coverage provider should be using something called prior authorization. This is basically a cost check that makes sure you’re not being prescribed the most expensive medication or prescriptions you don’t need. For our Replacement Health customers, we use a Prescription Drug Finder Tool to make this process easy. This tool lists any drugs that need prior authorization and provides you with a printable form.

Chances are you or a family member will need a prescription medication in your lifetime. Knowing you have good coverage and the tools to get the most out of your prescriptions gives you peace of mind. With these tips, you’ll save money and stay healthy!