Ways to save: Follow Maria Taylor's example and choose generic drugs over name brands. (Just make sure there are no questions about the generic's equivalence to your usual drug; see PeoplesPharmacy.com for more information.)
- Ask your doctor whether there are older, effective drugs you could take. Recent studies suggest that newer, pricier meds don't always work better than the less expensive treatments they were designed to replace. In one report, older diabetes drugs were as effective as newer types that cost eight to 11 times as much.
- Negotiate. Some health insurance companies are reducing or waiving co-pays on commonly prescribed drugs; call to see if your plan offers this program.
- Split your pills. Talk to your doctor about getting a higher-dose version of your drug and slicing the pills in half with a pill splitter. (Many statins can be split; the same is true of some pills for blood pressure, depression, and other conditions.) This can reduce prescription costs by as much as 50 percent.
- Look for discounts. NeedyMeds.org is a clearinghouse for hundreds of prescription-drug-assistance programs. Many of these programs are for the uninsured, but some provide discounts for insured patients who have high co-pays or who need expensive drugs.