Prescription medications are a big part of many patients' health care costs. In many cases, patients can reduce their out of pocket costs with some medication changes and some shopping around.
The Walmart $4 medication list and the Hannaford Healthy Saver plus program are fairly well known. Even if a particular medication is not on these lists, physicians can often substitute an equivalent generic medication and the savings can be considerable.
For other medications, there are several other options. Calling around to several local pharmacies usually finds lower prices. Interestingly, more than a few patients have reported they get a lower price if they don't give their insurance information to the pharmacy; the cash price is lower than their insurance copay.
Several free discount cards are available that can help. I've only had limited experience with these but a few of my patients have reported big savings on an expensive medication this way. One of these patients used the Maine Rx card offered via the Maine Medical Association. (Disclosure- I'm a director of the MMA.)
For the really expensive medications with no generic alternatives, the various drug companies offer some limited prescription assistance. The Prescription Assistance Program at the Knox County Health Clinic in Rockland can help uninsured patients with limited financial needs navigate these complicated programs.
Finally, many Direct Primary Care practices have had success with getting wholesale medication pricing for patients. We're looking into this to see how often and how much we can save for our patients this way.