The Insider’s Guide to How to Negotiate Your Healthcare Costs: Part 4

We’ve talked about how to best negotiate your healthcare costs, both before and after the fact, by tying the price you’re willing to pay with what Medicaid and Medicare pays.

The government already has done the negotiation for you. In fact, you paid for it.  You might as well use it.

Now let’s talk about your meds.

This one is tougher. It requires a little more effort on your part.

Here’s how you reduce your med costs.

  • Don’t take so many
    • Ask the prescribing clinician what each medication is for everytime you see them.
    • Bring all your medicine bottles to every appointment with anyone who can prescribe medications.
    • Once you hit four medicines, ask your prescriber which one you might be able to stop before your start another. Often, she’ll say none, but it will keep them on their toes and make them more thoughtful and less reflexive about current and future prescribing.
  • Don’t take brand-name medication.
    • Ask your prescriber for a generic medication, even if it isn’t exactly the same.
    • Better to take two generics rather than one brand name combination medication—it’s much less expensive.
    • Ask your prescriber if there is another, less expensive form in which to take their medicine.
      • Oral instead of patches
      • Breathing machine rather than puffer
  • Go to the website of every company who makes every medication you take.
    • Check out their coupons, their discounts, their patient assistance programs.
    • Needy meds is a good clearinghouse for additional information.
  • Check out bulk discounters
  • Try negotiating directly with pharmacist
    • Easier in local store, but larger ones will do it too.
      • Don’t go when it’s really busy.
  • If you’re really having trouble affording crucial meds, ask your prescriber to put you in touch with a social worker or someone else that can guide you through the charitable resources available.

Notice I said nothing about samples.

I don’t recommend using sample prescription medication from your doctor.

When the nurse grabs some samples, there’s a greater chance of an error of some kind—much greater than with all the systems in place in a pharmacy.

You might get the wrong medication.

Plus, you don’t want to encourage your doctor to see drug reps, more drug reps mean more brand name drug prescriptions for you.

More brand name medications, means more costs to you.

And that’s exactly the thing you want to avoid.

So, though it’s tempting, stay away from sample medications.

You can significantly decrease what you spend on your prescriptions



(This series is adapted from a post written by someone with an anonymous sobriquet. You can find here. The website is buggy, loaded with onerous advertisement and definitely contains content that many people find objectionable—it’s a place that the average healthcare consumer might not want to go.  A reader brought the post to my attention and asked me if it would work. I responded that, yes, I already had seen it work, many times in my old practice.  I revised the content for better understanding and useability. It’s not obviously copyrighted).