Discuss Options with Your Doctor
14. Bring a List
Get a copy of your insurance company's list of covered prescription medications (a "formulary") and share it with your doctor. Many insurers separate drugs into several pricing "tiers," so some medicines cost you more than others. If your doctor knows what's on your insurer's list, he can select the best medication for you at the lowest price. Also, if your plan requires you to get a referral to a specialist, take your insurance plan's preferred-provider list to your primary-care appointment. Your doctor can easily pick out the best specialist who participates in your plan.
15. Be Upfront About Finances
Are you short on cash? Do you have a high insurance deductible? Don't be embarrassed to tell your doctor or dentist. He may be able to suggest less-costly treatment options or even agree to lower fees. In fact, a Wall Street Journal/Harris Interactive poll found that three out of five people who negotiated with their doctors received discounts.
16. Slice Your Pills
Believe it or not, many high-dose prescription pills, from allergy meds to antidepressants, require exactly the same co-pay as their lower-dose counterparts. Ask your doctor whether you can safely split a higher-dosage pill in half, and cut your costs too. (You can't do this with controlled-release medications.)
17. Ask to Sample It
Your doctor's cupboards are full of free drug samples, courtesy of the pharmaceutical industry. If your child is getting shots, ask for a trial-size pain reliever in case he needs it later. If you're trying a new antibiotic or rash cream, your physician may even have enough samples to cover your course of treatment. Also, check out the drug company's Web site, which sometimes offers coupons or free samples.