How to Lower the Price of Drugs: Ask for the Cash Price

lower price of drugs; hand pulling money out of wallet over blue background with pills

There’s good news for those lamenting the high price of drugs under Medicare Part D: there is a way to save money on prescription drugs.

Under President Trump’s new “blueprint” for lowering drug costs, Medicare officials called gag orders “unacceptable and contrary” to transparency in drug pricing.

Gag orders keep pharmacists from letting Medicare beneficiaries know about ways to save on their prescriptions – such as paying cash instead of using insurance.

While the Trump administration did not put a stop to gag orders, there is still a way to pay a lower price. Just ask your pharmacist if you can pay cash. Your pharmacist is allowed to tell you if there is a lower cash price if you ask. 

Skyrocketing price of drugs under Medicare Part D

In 2013, the copayment patients paid for drugs was higher than the cash price for 1 in 4 drugs, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association. For many of the most popular drugs, patients overpaid by more than 33%.

Legislation to ban gag orders in Medicare Part D has been introduced in Illinois and Ohio, as well as in the U.S. Senate.

What is Part D?

Medicare Part D was started as part of the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003 and was put into effect in 2006. It covers prescription drugs, and is administrated through  private insurance agencies approved by Medicare. Anyone with Medicare Parts A and B is eligible for Part D.

During open enrollment, which runs from October 15 – December 7, you can add, change, or drop a Medicare Part D plan. You can either purchase a stand-alone Medicare Part D plan or enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan that includes Part D. It is advised that you enroll in Part D even if you don’t think you need it, in order to avoid paying penalties for late enrollment later.

How to save money with Medicare Part D

To save money on the price of drugs and avoid the donut hole coverage gap, always ask your doctor if there are generic versions of the drugs you need to take, sign up for your plan through, and only put your most expensive and brand name drugs under your Medicare Part D plan.

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