I know you probably think there’s a typo in the title of this article. But, when I decided to make a career change this year, I actually found some serious savings by asking a few important questions.
Here’s how it happened. As I reviewed my current insurance plan and what I’d need to cover in the future with my new position, I discovered the $13 a month prescription I’d been taking REALLY cost $626 a month (which was being covered primarily by my current insurance plan). What? Can that be true? How did I never know this?
I spent countless hours researching my new washer/dryer before I made the purchase. Yet, I blindly took prescription drugs without asking ANY questions, and I purchased them using insurance without ever looking at the price tag.
Below are 5 questions I’ve learned we need to ask our doctors when they’re writing a prescription drug…
1. What happens if I take this prescription drug?
I once had a doctor respond that the prescription drug she was writing was a preventive medication. I discovered she prescribed this medication because 2% of people with my condition would have a complication this drug would prevent. This particular medication was full of side effects and would require me to take it twice daily. Weighing my options, I chose not to take the medication. While I based my decision on a personal preference to avoid a preventative medication for a side effect experienced by just 2 out of 100 people, it might be peace of mind for you. The important thing is to have the information and make the decision for yourself.
2. What happens if I do not take this prescription?
Understanding the risk of not taking a medication is very important! If the medication leads to significant reduction of risk factors or helps ease daily symptoms, it is important to know when making your decision. It’s estimated that up to half of all prescription medications are either not taken correctly or at all. In fact, many of us don’t even fill our prescriptions. More than one in five people fail to fill their prescription after learning they need a medication to prevent a future heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, etc.
3. Why is this particular drug being prescribed and what is the effectiveness track record?
I learned a lot more about my treatment options once I knew more about a specific drug. As I asked questions about the suggested drug, I was able to research expected results. In addition, asking these questions lead to a bigger conversation about comprehensive treatment. I found that the effectiveness of my medication dramatically decreased if it was not paired with lifestyle changes. I found significant improvement in my results when I understood the comprehensive treatment plan, expected effectiveness and why one drug was suggested over another.
4. Are there alternative options?
This is the question I didn’t originally ask my doctor. As I was researching my new insurance plans, I knew my budget wasn’t going to allow $626 a month. Thankfully, I have a Doctors Online service, so I was able to get a second opinion from an unbiased specialist.
I simply sent an email with the details of my condition and the current drug I was taking, and asked if there were alternatives. The doctor wrote back to get more info about why I was prescribed this injectable option vs. a very inexpensive, long-standing, reliable pill that cost about $26 a month. In the end, he educated me and I took my new knowledge back to my doctor. I learned that the expensive injectable drug was prescribed because it was new and the other options had a history of increasing my weight by 2 - 3 pounds (to which I replied, “Like, 2 – 3 pounds every month OR over my lifetime?”). Not only was my new alternative less expensive, it actually works better! My doctor was great, but she favored the latest and greatest – not taking into account that I favored tried and true (and simple, and affordable).
5. What is the long-term plan or the end game?
I personally have found it very important to understand the long-term plan. I learned that, in some cases, I could change my lifestyle and come off a prescription drug. I want my doctor to help me achieve those goals and ensure we are both comfortable with a long-term game plan that gets me off the prescription drug. This question leads to a great conversation where we work on a plan together to achieve my goals.
Now it’s your turn! Do you ask questions about new prescriptions your doctor recommends? Comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.