How to save money at the pharmacy counter

Christopher Snowbeck, Star Tribune on

Published in Business News

Steve Wexler has experienced the trouble of finding affordable prescription drugs.

A few years ago, the 70-year-old Plymouth, Minnesota, resident opted to cut short his prescription for Eliquis, a popular blood thinner, rather than pay nearly $1,000 out-of-pocket for his final month on the medication.

Smart shopping can't always tame high costs like that, Wexler said, yet he remains a strong advocate for health care consumers trying their best to be savvy when it comes to their prescriptions.

He's found significant savings through the years by choosing the best health plan, comparing prices at different pharmacies and using discount card programs.

"As a consumer," Wexler said, "you've just got to be your own advocate and continue checking and shopping around."

Spending on prescriptions is once again taking center stage in the nation's never-ending drama with escalating health care costs.


Last fall, the New York-based consulting firm Mercer reported the average increase for employer health plan costs exceeded 5% in 2023 and will likely do so again this year, a second consecutive year of faster growth.

Prescription drugs have been the highest-growing category of expense for several years, according to Mercer, and the rate in 2023 pushed up even higher to 8.4% in part because of the growing popularity of drugs for diabetes and weight loss, known as GLP-1s (a popular one is Ozempic).

"Medications don't work if you don't take them," said Cathy McLeer, state director for AARP Minnesota. "Research has shown that the main reason that older Americans don't fill their prescriptions — or they end up taking a lower dose than was prescribed for them — is simply because they can't afford to. ... We advise people just to be good consumers, and do their homework."

Here's what you need to know about how to save money at the pharmacy counter:


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