3 steps to take when prescribed a new medication

It can be a relief to be prescribed a new medication with the hope that it’ll help you feel better or make it easier to manage a health condition. However, it may also be stressful if you’re concerned about affording the price. In fact, millions of Americans skip taking their medications due to the high cost. 

Luckily, there are ways to help find the most affordable option. Sometimes this just takes a bit of planning and research to better understand what prescription medication options may work best for your budget.

Here are three steps to consider to help lower your costs when you are prescribed a new medication:

1. Check if your health plan covers the specific drug and check the prescription drug list

A drug list (or formulary) is a list of the medications your health plan may provide coverage for and determines how you share in the cost. The drug list breaks medications into tiers, each with a certain out-of-pocket cost level. The specific tiers vary by health plan, but an example may include: 

  • Tier 1 (lowest cost): Mainly generics and a few brand names
  • Tier 2 (mid-range cost): A mix of generic and brand-name medications 
  • Tier 3 (highest cost): Mostly brand-name drugs

Remember to also go to an in-network pharmacy. It may help you avoid paying full retail price for your prescriptions and seeking reimbursement, even if they are covered under your prescription drug list. 

2. Ask if a generic medication may be a good alternative

Generic medications often are more affordable than brand-name drugs but have the same formulation, usage and safety as their brand-name equivalents. They’ve also undergone rigorous FDA testing and approval.

3. Voice your price concerns to your doctor

If you’re worried about affording a medication or you’re on a tight budget, your doctor may suggest ways to get needed medication as affordably as possible. This may include: 

  • Setting up home delivery, which allows you to order up to a three-month supply of medication you regularly take. It may be easy to enroll and oftentimes, there’s no charge for standard shipping within the U.S. 
  • Your provider may also use drug-pricing tools, like PreCheck MyScript, that pull through the exact cost of a medication, more affordable options and addresses prior authorization before you even step foot in the pharmacy.

While it takes a bit of research and planning, these three tips may help you save money on your prescription drugs — so you can focus on following your medication regime to help improve your health. 

If you are a UnitedHealthcare member, you may be eligible for point-of-sale discounts, as well. The program provides a large portion of drug manufacturers’ pharmacy rebates directly to eligible members when they pick up their prescription at point of sale, resulting in a lower overall cost for medications. 

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