Regardless of whether we avail ourselves of free nationalized healthcare or a private scheme, there is one thing that remains a constant source of annoyance, and that is the cost of prescription medications. Whether it’s something that has officially been prescribed or something suggested by the doctor, medicines are essential, which means they often come with a high and unavoidable price tag. That said, there are some commonsense steps we can take to drastically minimize the cost of prescription medication.
Make no mistake, both doctors and pharmacies will try to encourage you to buy a name brand medication. Not only is it more money going through the counter at the pharmacy, but ethical considerations aside, many healthcare professionals will receive bonuses from wholesalers or manufacturers. However, according to the FDA, there is often very little apart from fancy packaging that differentiates generic and affordable medication from its branded counterpart, costing as much as 10 or 20 times the price. If a doctor prescribes a drug, it is worth jotting down the name of the active ingredient and insisting on the generic variant when making a purchase. Unless there is a different milligram or dosage amount, there is literally no difference between the two.
Is The Prescription Cheaper?
This is something we often take for granted. The doctor writes a prescription, then we take it to the pharmacy and go home. But we’re often paying an inflated amount for something we can actually just buy over the counter for a fraction of the price. Some doctors will even write a prescription for paracetamol, available for small change, yet often sold with an exorbitant price tag on a prescription basis. Of course, the majority of doctors will hopefully avoid this counter-productive activity, and pharmacies will often encourage customers to make a purchase ‘off prescription’ in order to save money. Unfortunately, however, there are some unscrupulous healthcare professionals who will happily let us pay over the odds.
This is something that many people do, yet others frown upon or simply do not consider. While in many countries with nationalized healthcare, the cost of a prescription is the same online or in-store, for private prescriptions or countries without free healthcare, the difference can be massive. Physical pharmacies have more overheads and often buy in smaller amounts due to limited space, sending the price tag skyrocketing. A quick online search will often find the same medication for a fraction of the price, from an accredited and legal online pharmacy that has far fewer overheads and sends thousands of units out every day. Furthermore, the wait times are only a fraction longer than a lot of physical locations. It’s not unusual to have to return later the same day or another day altogether, either because the stock is low or a pharmacist is not physically present. Most online pharmacies will have a ‘next day delivery’ option. No more trawling to the pharmacy with our ailments only to go home empty-handed.
Many online pharmacies, in a very convenient move, now also offer a repeat prescription service at no extra cost. This basically means that if we are expecting to have two renew our prescription for, let’s say, inhalers on a quarterly basis, we no longer need to visit our doctor to pick up a prescription and repeat the process every few months. The online pharmacy will either be proactively sent the order by the doctor, or their reminder system will ensure the doctor is contacted and the medication sent out promptly. They will also likely offer a volume discount on repeat prescriptions, so paying upfront will save a hefty chunk of change.
In summary, the days of wondering whether an online pharmacy is legitimate are thankfully largely behind us. For anyone looking to save money on healthcare, going online should be the first port of call.
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