How Thyroid Patients Can Save Money on Prescription Drugs

Generic drugs, prescription assistance programs, and discount drug cards can help thyroid patients s
Generic drugs, prescription assistance programs, and discount drug cards can help thyroid patients save money.. clipart.com

With rising drug prices, it's no surprise that we all are looking for ways to save money on prescription drugs. Thyroid patients -- who often are taking medication for life -- are no exception. 

Most thyroid patients take at least one thyroid medication - usually a thyroid hormone replacement drug like Synthroid (levothyroxine) or Nature-throid (natural desiccated thyroid), or an antithyroid drug like Tapazole (methimazole).

Many thyroid patients also find themselves dealing with a variety of other health conditions - often related to symptoms and side effects of the underlying thyroid or autoimmune condition. It's not uncommon to hear that in addition to thyroid medicine, a thyroid patient is also prescribed a beta-blocker (for blood pressure), antidepressant, anti-anxiety medication, statin drug (for high cholesterol) and/or a prescription sleep medications.

All these costly prescription medications can quickly add up, making it expensive - and sometimes even prohibitive - to follow the doctor's recommendations regarding drug treatments.

How can thyroid patients save money on prescription drugs? Here are some tips.

Try Generic Drugs

For some thyroid medications, and many other categories of medications, generic drugs can be a way to save money. 

Thyroid patients do need to be careful, however, about filling their prescription for levothyroxine with generic medication, instead of brand names like Synthroid, Levoxyl, and Tirosint.

Many physicians do not recommend that patients use generic levothyroxine based on concerns about potency differences among different generic manufacturers. Learn more about the specific issues with and guidelines for generic levothyroxine in this article.

Prescription Assistance Programs

One way thyroid patients may be able to save money is through a prescription assistance program, or PAP.

These are organizations that help qualified patients get prescribed medications at reduced prices, or in some cases, at no cost. Some are non-profit or government- run, and others are subsidized by the drug companies themselves. An excellent overview of these programs is featured in the article Prescription Assistance Programs: Helping Patients Afford the Prescription Drugs They Need.

Listings of drug manufacturers and drugs covered by patient assistance programs can be found at PatientAssistance.com. Some other sources of PAP information include:

Thyroid patients may be interested to know that a number of thyroid drug manufacturers have their own prescription assistance programs as well. Each pharmaceutical company has a set of strict guidelines and criteria to be met for assisting patients/consumers.  

Some of the thyroid drugmakers that have prescription assistance programs include:

Another cost-saving possibility is a drug discount card. These cards that can help with costs of prescription drugs that are not covered by insurance. It's important to know how these cards work, and which ones are legitimate, as some of them can be scams. You can learn more in an overview at Discount Prescription Drug Cards: Saving Money on Prescription Drugs.

Keep in mind that drug discount cards may not work for every prescription, and can’t be used in conjunction with insurance.  They can be used instead of insurance if:

  • The drug isn’t covered by insurance
  • The insurance doesn’t have prescription coverage
  • The drug deductible is high
  • The discount card gives a better discount than insurance copay
  • The Medicare “donut hole” has been reached

For sources of drug discount cards, here are some providers:

Buy Drugs from Canada Online

Some drugs can be purchased with a prescription from Canadian pharmacies, online, at prices lower than American pharmacies. It’s important to be careful before ordering from a Canadian  pharmacy by taking two key steps:

  1. Make sure the online pharmacy is verified.  Check for the Pharmacy Checker display – and actually click on it to make sure it take you to pharmacychecker.com.  It should take you to the PharmacyChecker site – and show you when the company was verified, and their license number, etc.
  2. Make sure the prescription is coming from a licensed Canadian pharmacy.  Just because the prescription is being mailed from Canada does not necessarily mean the product itself is from Canada.

Check with Your Health Insurance

You may be able to find a generic or a different class of drug (for the same use) at a cheaper price.  Check with your insurance company to find the different costs for different tiers/classes of prescription drugs. 

Talk With Your Doctor

It's often useful to talk with your doctor about your medication options. For example:

  • Your doctor may have samples or can give advice about different tiers/classes of drugs that may provide the same benefits, but at a cheaper price.
  • Split your pills – ask your doctor to write a prescription for higher dose and then split the pill possible. 
  • Have the doctor write the prescription in 90 day increments so you can get it filled thru your health insurance mail order prescription company.  This is usually cheaper – you can get 90 days for the cost of 60 days.

Fill Prescriptions at Discount Warehouse Club Pharmacies

Check with CostCo, Sam's Club or BJ’s on the price to fill your prescriptions. They are often less expensive than other pharmacies, and you don’t have to be a member to get prescriptions filled. 

Research Online for the Best Prices at Local Pharmacies

You can use sites like GoodRx or LowestMeds to compare prescription costs at local pharmacies

Negotiate

Call your local pharmacies and see what they can do for you as far as the cost of your drugs. You may be able to get a lower price simply by asking. 

Don’t Necessarily Use Your Health Insurance

Sometimes it’s less expensive to pay out of pocket for a drug than to pay your insurance co-pay. (Thyroid patients may find this when the co-pay for natural desiccated thyroid drugs like Armour and Nature-throid may be more expensive than actually paying the retail price of the prescription.) Always check with the pharmacy to find out whether the co-pay or actual price is lower. 

Check Out Independent Pharmacies

Independent pharmacies have more flexibility in terms of pricing, and you may get a better deal at a local independent drugstore.

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