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How to save money on prescription drugs

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Qing Yang and Kevin Parker

Nearly 10% of U.S. health care spending is for prescription drugs, totaling $370 billion in 2019. Remarkably, only half of that amount comes from insurance companies and the government; the rest is paid out-of-pocket by patients. On average, each American adult fills 17 prescriptions a year; the number doubles for those 65 and older.

Paying for prescription drugs can place a substantial financial burden on patients and families. According to a report from Georgetown University, 40% of patients admitted to not filling prescriptions because of the cost, or cutting their spending on food, heat and other necessities so that they can afford their meds. 

Attempting to save money by skipping or taking less than the prescribed amount of medication is a bad idea. Patients have died from rationing to stretch out their supply of insulin or anti-epileptics. There are ways to make prescription medications more affordable that don’t involve endangering yourself.

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