7 Ways for Seniors to Reduce Prescription Drug Costs

save money on prescription drugs

Seniors spend a lot on prescription drugs

On average, people over age 65 take 14 – 18 prescription medications a year.

Unfortunately, drug costs have been increasing steadily over the years, putting significant financial pressure on seniors.

In fact, the prices of the 20 most commonly prescribed brand-name drugs for seniors have risen nearly 10 times more than the annual rate of inflation over the past five years.

If your older adult is paying a lot for medication, checking to see if there are ways to lower their prescription drug costs could mean thousands of dollars in savings.

To help make their medicine more affordable, we rounded up 7 tips that help seniors save money on prescription drugs.



7 ways to spend less on prescription drugs

1. Switch to generics
On average, generic drugs cost 80 – 85% less than brand name drugs. Ask your older adult’s doctor if there are generic drugs that could safely replace their brand medications.

The FDA requires generic drugs to have the same quality and performance as brand name drugs, but there may still be subtle differences that could affect your older adult’s health.

That’s why it’s important to speak with the doctor before making any changes.


2. Find less expensive brand name drugs
Most health conditions can be treated by a variety of different drugs. Some of those drugs may work in similar ways, but can cost much less.

Ask your older adult’s doctor if there are less expensive brand name medications that could treat their condition just as well as the current medication.


3. Switch to a mail-order pharmacy
Many health plans and pharmacy companies encourage you to use their mail-order pharmacy. You’ll save money on most drugs and get a 3 month supply.

You’ll save money on most drugs and get a 3 month supply. That means no more running back and forth to the pharmacy – saving time too!


4. Find a better Medicare drug plan

If your older adult is paying high prescription medication costs, a different Medicare drug plan could lower those costs.

Use the Medicare Plan Finder to look at different plans or talk with a free expert counselor at your local State Health Insurance and Assistance Programs (SHIP) office.


5. Get help from state programs
Some states have programs that provide extra help paying for prescription medications. 

It’s worth the time to investigate if your older adult’s drug costs are high relative to their income – they may qualify. Find out if your state offers extra help paying for prescriptions.


6. Get help from the drug manufacturer
Some drug companies offer programs that help people pay for their medications. Use this simple tool to look up your senior’s drugs to see if there are any assistance programs.

However, the benefit of drug manufacturer coupons are changing now that insurance companies have put copay accumulators in place.

Examine your older adult’s specific prescription drug plan to see how using these type of coupons will affect their deductible and out-of-pocket costs.


7. Apply for the Extra Help program
For lower income seniors, Social Security has a program called Extra Help With Medicare Prescription Drug Costs.

It helps pay for costs related to a Medicare prescription drug plan. Find out if your older adult qualifies and how to apply.


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By DailyCaring Editorial Team
Image: Two Wolves and a Lamb


  • Reply July 20, 2015

    Connie Chow

    Thank you for the excellent advice, Dr. Kernisan! We absolutely agree — medication isn’t always the best or only solution to health issues.

    It’s important to for seniors and families talk with doctors to determine if medicine is the best solution or if other things can be tried first to see if they improve the condition.

  • These are good tips, but first and foremost I’d encourage seniors to check that each medication is absolutely necessary.

    Many conditions — including incontinence, depression, heartburn, and pain — can be treated with non-drug techniques. But patients and families often have to ask about these options.

    In other cases, the likely benefit of the drug is smaller than people realize…it’s been estimated that only one in 12 people benefits from a commonly prescribed dementia drug, for instance; in most people the drug seems to have minimal effect.

    Paring a medication list down to what’s truly benefiting a senior’s health has advantages beyond saving money. It helps reduce the risk of side-effects, interactions, and complications. Plus reduces the hassle of taking all those pills.

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