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Health care expenses are inevitable for all of us, but I always try to spend as little as possible. The cost of over the counter medications, prescriptions, and treatment can add up very fast. If you’re trying to live a frugal lifestyle, dealing with all of these expenses can be difficult and frustrating.
Fortunately, there are ways you can save money. A few dollars here and there can quickly add up! In this post, I’ll discuss seven simple ways to reduce these overwhelming expenses. With these options, you can save hundreds of dollars per year or more on health care costs. Between coupons and free resources, there are many steps you can take. Take a look and see how you can save money on health care.
1. Learn The Drug Name And Go Generic
When buying over the counter medications, it’s normal to instinctively reach for brand name medications. The downside to this is that brand name OTC medications can cost much more than generic options. I’ll list a few examples below:
- At Target, Tylenol Extra Strength Pain Reliever and Fever Reducer Caplets are $14.99 for a 225 count bottle. Tylenol is simply a brand name for acetaminophen. The generic version, up & up Acetaminophen 500mg Quick Release Gelcaps costs $9.99 for 225 gelcaps. Both options contain the same amount of acetaminophen, but you save $5 with the generic version.
- At Walmart, Motrin IB costs $7.87 for a 100 count bottle. Motrin is the brand name for ibuprofen. A bottle of Equate Ibuprofen costs $2.48. Both options contain the same amount of ibuprofen, but you save $5.39 with the generic version.
- At Target, ZzzQuil™ Nighttime Sleep-Aid LiquiCaps cost $7.99 for a 24-count box. The ingredient in this medication is 25mg of diphenhydramine hydrochloride. A bottle of up & up Diphenhydramine Hydrochloride Allergy Relief Tablets cost $2.89 for a 24-count bottle. Both options have the same amount of diphenhydramine hydrochloride, but you save $5.10 with the generic version.
When you opt for generic drugs, you save $15.49 on just three items. Think about how much you can save by solely picking generic options for your medicine cabinet.
There are some great resources you can use to quickly look up the generic names of medications, too. Visit Needy Meds and the University of North Carolina’s page for comprehensive lists of medication names. A few minutes of research can lead to significant savings on all of your over-the-counter medication needs.
2. Visit Drug Manufacturer Website For Coupons and Vouchers
Prescription drugs can cost a pretty penny, and the prices for them are frequently set in stone. In recent years, manufacturers of prescription drugs have been working to help patients afford them. It’s fairly easy to find coupons, vouchers, and discount cards for a number of prescription drugs. Here are a few resources to check out:
- RX Pharmacy Coupons – A comprehensive database of drug coupons offered by manufacturers. There are currently 704 coupons and savings offers available.
- InternetDrugCoupons.com – Another major database of drug coupons and discounts provided by manufacturers. Use the search function to explore discounts on over 50,000 medications.
- Chantix Savings Card by Pfizer – This downloadable discount card allows you to save up to $75 per month on your Chantix prescription.
- Lyrica Savings Card by Pfizer – This co-pay savings card helps you pay as little as $25 per month for your Lyrica prescription.
- Relpax Savings Card by Pfizer – Qualifying patients can use this co-pay card to pay as little as $4 per month for their Relpax prescriptions.
- Norvasc Savings Card by Pfizer – If you’re an eligible patient, you may use this savings card to get completely free refills on your Norvasc prescription.
- Estring Co-pay Card by Pfizer – Patients who use Estring may pay as little as $15 per 90 day prescription for Estring.
- Lipitor Savings Card by Pfizer – The Lipitor Savings Card allows you to pay between $4 and $30 per month for your prescription depending on eligibility.
- Lilly Cares Foundation Patient Assistance Program – This program by Lilly (formerly Eli Lilly) helps patients get access to certain Lilly prescription medications for free. The Program Finder Tool can help you determine what options are available to you.
- Strattera Savings Card by Lilly – With the Strattera savings card, you can save up to $75 per month on your prescription.
- CIALIS Savings Card by Lilly – This card, offered by Lilly, gives patients $200 off their monthly of Cialis.
As you can see, these offers can save you a significant amount of money on your prescription medications. Let’s say that you qualify for the Chantix Savings Card. You’ll save $75 per month or $900 per year on your prescription. This is just one example out of thousands of available discounts. Look up medications that you’re prescribed to see if you can find great savings options.
3. Explore Web-Based Resources For Mental Health
Struggling to find mental health care can feel very defeating. Additionally, finding medical care can be quite expensive. In recent years, web-based resources for mental health have become increasingly popular. It’s important to note that these resources aren’t a replacement for care from a licensed physician. However, they can be very helpful in times of need. Below is a list of online mental health care resources.
- 7 Cups – The about page of 7 Cups of Tea describes it as “an on-demand emotional health and well-being service”. Individuals who are struggling with mental illness or emotional problems have one-on-one conversations with trained listeners. The service is anonymous and available via their website or smartphone apps. If you simply want someone to listen to you, this website may be a great resource.
- Mental Health America – Mental Health America offers an online support group called Inspire. This community has over 8,000 members and several different topics of discussion. Some topics include anxiety and phobias, depression, grief and bereavement, and personality disorders. You can join active discussions in this peer-to-peer community or start a discussion topic of your own.
- National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) – The National Alliance on Mental Health provides a tremendous amount of services to individuals throughout the country. One service that NAMI offers is NAMI Discussion Groups online. This is another peer-to-peer service where you can chat with other individuals struggling with mental health issues. To join a discussion, you’ll need to create a free account.
- CrisisChat – Lifeline Crisis Chat is an online chat service that’s part of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. According to their About page, they provide “online emotional support, crisis intervention, and suicide prevention services”. Individuals who visit the site speak with chat specialists who help devise safety plans and provide additional assistance. Each chat specialist has training in suicide prevention and crisis prevention.
- BlahTherapy – BlahTherapy is a unique site that provides two main types of services. Their free service allows visitors to chat with other individuals one-on-one. This service is anonymous and does not require visitors to sign up. They also provide visitors access to online therapists. Chat sessions are $25 per session, and visitors are matched with trained and licensed counselors. BlahTherapy has serviced over 500,000 individuals to date.
To sum it up, there are always options available if you need someone to talk to. Whether you want to vent or seek professional help, you can do so online. These free and inexpensive services can be extremely useful if you cannot currently afford mental health treatment.
4. Find The Lowest Prescription Prices With GoodRX
When you’re filling a prescription, you likely have several options when it comes to choosing a pharmacy. You may be surprised to find that some pharmacies have significantly lower prices than others.
To get the lowest possible price, look up your prescription on GoodRX. This website will show you the prices of prescriptions at pharmacies in your area. You can also find many coupons through GoodRX. I’ll look up some examples and use my zip code to show how much you can potentially save:
- I looked up the nerve pain medication called Gabapentin. At one pharmacy, the cash price for Gabapentin is $19.08 using a GoodRX coupon. At another pharmacy, the cost is $13.43 using a GoodRX coupon. I could save $5.45 on a 90-day prescription by using GoodRX.
- Next, I looked up the antidepressant Prozac. At one pharmacy, the cash price for this medication is $11.46 using a GoodRX coupon. At another, it’s only $3.99 using a GoodRX coupon. By choosing the second pharmacy, I could save $7.47 on a 30-day prescription by using GoodRX.
- Lastly, I looked up the anxiety medication Xanax. At one pharmacy, the cash price for Xanax is $11.61 using a GoodRX coupon. At another pharmacy, it’s just $7.74 using a GoodRX coupon. If I choose that pharmacy and use a GoodRX coupon, I could save $3.87 on a 30-day prescription.
On these three medications alone, I’d save a total of $157.88 per year by using GoodRX. It took me less than 30 seconds to look up each medication and find the highest and lowest prices. Use this simple and free tool to quickly get the best price for the prescriptions that you need.
5. Visit Your Local Health Department’s Website
Your local health department’s website may be an extremely valuable resource for you. Health departments frequently offer discounted or free services to communities. They also help individuals find the care that they need. I’ll use some examples of the resources I found on my county’s health department website. While there are prices listed for some services, the site explicitly states “No one is denied service due to inability to pay.”.
- Employment and college physicals
- TB blood test
- Tuberculin skin test
- STD screenings
- Pregnancy testing
- Blood pressure clinics
- Family planning services
- Prenatal care
- Postpartum care
- Senior citizen monitoring, assessment, and home care
- Flu shots
- Mental health screenings and services
- Women, Infant and Children Program (WIC)
- Adult special need services
- Adolescent special need services
Certain services such as the WIC program and flu shots are 100% free health care services. Immunizations and mental health services are based on income and ability to pay. Your county or city’s health department likely offers similar affordable care. At the very least, the health department can be an invaluable resource for finding help when you need it most.
6. Get Reduced Dental Care From Dental Schools
Dental procedures can be pretty expensive with or without insurance coverage. A root canal costs between $762 and $1,110 on average. Without insurance, the average cost of one simple resin filling is $90 to $250. My own insurance hardly puts a dent in that number. So whether or not you’ve got dental insurance, you may find yourself overspending if you visit a traditional dentist.
Fortunately, there’s a unique alternative that’s both reputable and cost-effective. Many people choose to get dental work performed by students at dental schools. Dental students are supervised as they perform procedures on patients. Procedures may take more time, as students are learning and working very carefully to do things right. However, the decrease in expenses makes the extra time well worth it.
An article in the Washington Post provides great insight into the benefits of dental school services. The author paid $1,416 for a dental procedure at a dental school. The author’s dentist quoted him $3,000 for the same procedure. By choosing to visit a school instead, she got a discount of $1,584 or 52.8 percent. She invested much more time in student services, but the financial savings are absolutely staggering!
Finding dental schools that offer services is fairly simple. I found a university near me with a dental school by searching “dental schools in (my city)” on Google. You can also visit the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research website. Under the ‘Dental Schools and Dental Hygiene Schools’ header, you’ll find two links that help you find schools in your area.
7. Request Medication Samples From Your Doctors
When your doctor prescribes you a new medication, you may be hesitant to fill the prescription right away. You don’t always know if a medication is going to work for you. If it doesn’t, you’ve spent money on something that you won’t use. This could mean you’ll end up spending anywhere from a few dollars to over one hundred dollars. Fortunately, many doctors have medication samples for patients to try.
These samples typically contain one to two weeks worth of medication. They come in blister packs or small cardboard packages and contain the information you need. Pharmaceutical companies give these to all types of doctors – psychiatrists, obstetricians, cardiologists, and so on. Before you fill a new prescription, ask your doctor if he or she has medication samples. You may be able to get a few week’s worth of medication for free.
Paying for health care and medication is pretty inevitable for most people. But there are so many ways to reduce expenses in this area. Use as many of the options above as possible. If all nine of them are applicable to you, you can easily save several hundred dollars annually. That’s certainly excellent for any frugal-minded people!
At Frugal For Less, we offer tons of valuable information about saving money. If you found this post helpful, you may find Top 22 Ways To Save Money On Dental Care to be very useful. To cut down costs in other areas of your life, check out the Save Money section. Thanks for reading and happy frugaling!