No health insurance? How to save some money

Prescription drugs can be expensive. Photo by J. Troha.

by Rob Howard

You always hear about high medical and drug prices but it isn’t something you run into if you have decent health insurance. When my husband was temporarily without health coverage for two months, we were suffering sticker shock in the worst way.

We were faced with the option of purchasing insurance coverage from his former employer, but under their COBRA program, it would cost $600 a month for less than adequate coverage. We elected not to do that unless he had some catastrophic event.

It is important that you understand completely the terms of your employer’s COBRA program. In his case, he had 60 days to apply for it, and it could be used retroactively as soon as you paid the premiums.

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Fortunately, he didn’t need the coverage, but I had his application filled out and signed in my desk, just in case something happened. So, we chalked up $1,200 in savings for the period.

The next hurdle was prescriptions. We had been used to paying about $40 in copays a month for his prescribed drugs. I found one site online that would estimate the cost of his prescriptions, and it came up with a monthly cost of just over $500. I didn’t like the details of the program, so we didn’t go with that.

I went to the pharmacy we use with a list of his prescriptions, and a helpful clerk looked each of them up and priced them for me. I discussed being uninsured with another clerk, who told me about prescription discount cards available online. When we filled four of his prescriptions, the total came to nearly $700 so before we picked them up we looked for discount cards, and printed out two of them.

Then it was off to the store to see what would happen. The first card the clerk tried returned zero savings. The second one was like winning the lottery. With that card, we walked out with the prescriptions for $260. I calculated that the card had saved us 62 percent of the cost. A later purchase that would have cost $250, we got for $110.

Another way to save is to use programs that provide low cost for generic drugs. Costco, Walmart and Target as well as others all have these programs. Two of his prescriptions came to $4 each a month. It is important that you have your doctor prescribe generic drugs if there is one available.

For other medical situations there may be low cost options available. For example, offers discount prescription glasses for about $20 including frame, lenses and shipping.

For dental, I had a friend who needed a complete set of dentures who found a lab in Tecumseh, Okla. that would do them for $300.

Saving on medical costs is a time consuming and sometimes frustrating project, but there are several ways you can keep your costs down. You just have to keep looking for options.

Copyright The Gayly – November 26, 2017 @ 8:00 a.m. CST.