Discount Medicine

Written by Jeremy Horelick
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In an age of spiraling health care costs, it's growing harder and harder to find discount medicine. Drug companies, which are privately held, remain accountable to their shareholders and must therefore make profitability their number one concern. At the same time, research and development costs continue to rise as drug-makers vie for the best engineers, chemists, and other employees. The net result is always the same: more money for fewer prescription benefits.

To combat this trend, many patients elect to buy generic drugs over their more expensive brand-name counterparts, a move that can reduce prescription fees by up to 80 or 90 percent. A lot of plan members, however, have reservations about purchasing what they perceive as "inferior" drugs, even if such a perception is ill-founded. Oftentimes, there's no substantive difference in efficacy between the two.

To Make Matters Worse

Although doctors are supposedly governed by the Hippocratic Oath, which puts the patient's well being first, not all physicians interpret this the same way. Namely, some doctors receive incentives from drug companies to push particular drugs over cheaper but equally efficacious ones. In the end, this only contributes to the inflationary trend that's characterized the prescription drug industry in recent years. So, what recourse do patients have?

One option for cost-conscious plan members is to forego their costly prescription drug benefit and opt instead for a separate discount program that locks in lower rates on all drugs, be they generic or name brand. Before doing so, however, sit down with a calculator and see just how much you stand to save by doing so. It may turn out that you'd rather choose a lower deductible and higher monthly premiums on your prescription policy. If not, a discount medicine program can be a wise second choice.

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