Americans are struggling to keep up with drug prices & costs continue to soar: Tips on saving money

ByDiane Wilson and Jennifer Rice WTVD logo
Friday, June 25, 2021
Prescription drug prices are soaring: Tips on saving money
"My fear is we won't have anything to live on continually having to pay these prices."

The cost of prescription drugs is soaring. A new report shows, even during the pandemic, consumers have had to pay three times more for some of their medicines.

The latest RX Price Watch Report from AARP shows that brand-name drug prices have been growing faster than general inflation for more than a decade. For the average older American taking 4.7 prescription drugs per month, the annual cost of therapy was more than $31,000 in 2020-more than three and a half times the cost seen 15 years earlier. This amount exceeds the average annual income for Medicare beneficiaries.

Rolesville residents Judy Light and her husband have been impacted by the high prescriptions firsthand.

"My fear is we won't have anything to live on continually having to pay these prices," Light said.

Light says she is on ten medications and her husband is on nine. These medications are costing them thousands each month, even with insurance.

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When it comes to one prescription, their out-of-pocket cost last year was $200 for a three-month supply, but now, over $1,000.

"When you have to pay these kinds of prices on a fixed income it's just not possible. I'm one of the fortunate ones. We have had our house paid off so now we have to refinance our house to pay our medical bills," Light said.

Leigh Purvis, Director of Health Care Costs and Access, AARP Public Policy Institute reminds us the high cost impacts everyone.

"Everyone who has health coverage is paying for prescription drugs through their premiums and their cost-sharing, and you're also paying as a taxpayer because your taxes are going towards programs that pay for prescription drugs," she said.

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To save money on prescriptions, first, talk to your doctor to see if there is a less expensive alternative to the drugs you're already taking.

Another way to save money, look at free prescription discount drug cards or online websites or apps, like GoodRX that tracks drug prices. How it works is you put in the details of your prescription on the app and then you'll get the cost of the prescription at the pharmacies near you. The price ranges from pharmacy to pharmacy, and you pick the one that meets your needs.

"There's a lot of variation in the prescription drug pricing market, and that is something that you will see when you take a look at those websites. You know, just moving five miles might result in substantial savings for you," Purvis said.

GoodRx is not the only option. There are several other prescription drug discount cards you'll find at your doctor's office or local pharmacy, but the key is to do your research. The cards are free you should not have to pay for the services. Also, don't forget about the locally-owned pharmacies as they often have their loyalty programs. Another tip, don't forget about price matching, sometimes a pharmacy will price match if you find a better price at another one.