Navigating through the high cost of prescription drugs

Crystal Linn
According to a recent article in the New York Times citizens in the United States pay more for prescription drugs than any other country in the world.
 The main reason is the U.S. government does not work with pharmaceutical companies to regulate drug prices. This allows those companies the freedom to control the market, eliminating competition and manipulating patents.
 In Europe, the second largest prescription drug market after the U.S., the government negotiates with the drug companies for lower prices.
 Also the U.S. and New Zealand are the only two countries in the world who allows drug companies to advertise directly to consumers. In 2022 U.S. drug companies spent nearly 8.1 billion dollars in consumer advertising which is a contributing factor for higher drug prices.
 Here is a piece of insider information, because new drugs are always being formulated and traditional ones are being modified pharmacists are required to take continuing education classes to keep up with the changes. In turn doctors rely on pharmacists to learn about the medications they prescribe.
 Approximately 20 percent of Americans are on Medicare which is more than 60 million people – and acquiring prescriptions through Medicare has its own challenges.
 Medicare Part D is for prescription drugs and contains four different tiers.
 Tier 1 – lowest copayment: most generic prescription drugs.
 Tier 2 – medium copayment: preferred, brand-name prescription drugs.
 Tier 3 – higher copayment: non-preferred, brand-name prescription drugs.
 Specialty tier – highest copayment: very high cost prescription drugs
 Most health care providers are willing to work with patients and Medicare to find the best prices.
 Medicare Advantage Plans sometimes called Part C are Medicare health plans offered by Medicare-approved private insurance companies which follow Medicare’s policies and procedures. Most Medicare Advantage Plans include Part D drug coverage. These companies are able to offer good, or at least decent, prices. Coverage options change from year to year so it is wise for each person to check with their insurance providers at the end of each year.
 An important side note is when a person signs up for Medicare but declines Part D then in the future signs up for it that person will be penalized for not signing up for it in the beginning.
 There is good news. More reliable alternatives are now available for purchasing medications at lower costs, and it appears more are on the horizon. is for ordering affordable prescriptions from other countries, especially Canada. was started by Shark Tank celebrity Mark Cuban and offers lower prices, especially for the higher priced drugs. is another reputable online pharmacy which also offers over the counter medicines and supplies.
 Here are three suggestions for finding the best prices possible.
 1 – Ask healthcare providers if a generic brand would work, then ask the insurance company what they cover.
 2 – Talk with pharmacists regarding local coupons, manufacturer coupons or patient assistant programs from the drug companies.
 3 – Discuss with healthcare providers and insurance companies the option of purchasing a 90-day supply, as buying in bulk is more affordable. Also discuss with doctors the option of cutting pills (dosages) in half, if possible to save money.
 Another idea few patients are aware of is to ask healthcare providers if there are supplements which would work instead of prescriptions. Examples are vitamin B-1 is used for sleep apnea and frankincense is used for certain cancers.
 Please email us with your thoughts and suggestions regarding prescription drugs. I personally answer every email.
 I want to publicly thank our readers who wrote asking me to write on this topic. If you have a topic you want to read about please email us.

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