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How to Save Money at the Pharmacy

Bring Your Insurance Card

Yes, this seems like a bit of a "no-brainer." You may think no one ever forgets to bring their insurance card, but it happens every day in every pharmacy across America. Carry your insurance card in your wallet, and give it to the pharmacy as soon as you can when filling a prescription. Any time your insurance changes, bring in the new card.
Along similar lines, if you're trying to fill a prescription for your child, spouse, parent, sister, friend, etc., make sure you have all their information, including birth date and Social Security number. Your pharmacist will need this information to submit the claim to the insurance, although sometimes a Social Security number is unnecessary.

Get to Know Your Formulary

What is a formulary? It is a list that helps determine which medications are covered and at which level, or "tier," for your insurance plan. Each plan has its own formulary. You can probably request a written copy, but most plans have a way to look up formulary information online, which is usually better, since formularies change throughout the year as medications go generic. You may find that you are paying top dollar for a third-tier drug but that a similar medication is a first-tier (and much less expensive) option.
A phone call to your insurance company can also help you sort out your options. Keep in mind that your doctor will need to determine if such alternatives are suitable for your situation, and you'll need a new prescription to switch.
Along similar lines, make sure you know when it makes sense to use your insurer's mail-order pharmacy. Sometimes, it's much cheaper. Sometimes, it makes no difference, and sometimes, it's even more expensive! How to know? Check your insurer's Web site or give them a quick call.
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