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Affording prescription drugs

MMI Copywriter

By Kim McGrigg, MMI Community Manager

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 90 percent of senior citizens and 58 percent of nonelderly adults rely on a prescription medicine on a regular basis. Unfortunately, the cost of prescription drugs increased an average of almost 7 percent annually between 1997 and 2007 — significantly faster than the rate of inflation.

As prescription drugs become less affordable, many people try to go without their prescribed medications. In fact, a Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC) report found that one in seven Americans went without prescribed medication in 2007.  This statistic is particularly troubling because people who don’t take their medications often pay a high price in the long run. The New England Healthcare Institute estimates that people who don’t take their prescribed drugs incur up to $290 billion a year in increased medical costs.

If you or a family member has been prescribed medications that you pay for out-of-pocket, following are some suggestions to help make them more affordable.

Opt for generics. Choosing a generic brand isn’t just a grocery store saving strategy. Ask your doctor if the name brand drug he or she prescribed also comes in a generic. The Food and Drug Administration assures consumers those generic drugs have the same quality, strength, purity, and stability as their brand-name counterparts.

Shop around. The cost of prescription medication is not consistent — so it pays to shop around. In fact, Consumer Reports found the cost can vary as much as $100 for the same prescription!

Buy in bulk. If you need your prescription on an ongoing basis, many pharmacies offer discounts for buying a 90-day supply.

Take advantage of existing benefits. You may belong to organizations without really knowing the full extent of your membership benefits. For example, organizations like the AARP and AAA offer their members ways to save on medication. Most pharmacies also offer their own prescription savings plan.

Ask for help. Talk to you doctor if you cannot afford your treatment plan — he or she may know of resources to help you better afford the health care they are prescribing. Also, many drug companies offer their medications at a reduced cost to consumers who can demonstrate a financial need for assistance.

Don’t add insult to injury. Avoid adding unnecessary cost by eliminating any chance of impulse shopping while waiting for your prescriptions to be filled. To do this, consider having your prescriptions delivered by mail or look for a pharmacy with a drive through window.

Keep a tally. Keep tabs of your medical expenses for tax time. According to, the cost of prescription drugs is deductible. Also, consider establishing a flexible spending account that allows you to put pre-tax money aside and then get reimbursed when you have out-of-pocket health care expenses.

Weigh the benefits. Factor prescription drug benefits into the equation when considering a comprehensive health insurance plan. You can also choose to take out independent prescription drug coverage, such as the plans offered to older Americans through Medicare.

Finally, understand that if money is tight, you may have to make some tough choices. Cut back in areas that are less essential; remember, healthcare is a need, not a want. 

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Protect your home from break-ins this summer


Summertime is the time to play hooky – from work, school, and other obligations – if only temporarily. Who doesn’t love the idea of spending the long, hot days lounging by the pool, sipping on homemade lemonade? Your plans might also include a well-deserved vacation getaway with the family or significant other.

Summer usually means adopting a lackadaisical approach to the long, hot days – normally a healthy coping mechanism. However, there’s one area you shouldn’t neglect: home security.

Summer is prime time for home break-ins and burglaries. Reports show the average crime rate in the U.S. increases by 10 percent during the summer. FBI crime statistics also show that residential burglaries cost the victim an average of more than $2,096.

Vacations are a major part of any summer budget, but falling victim to theft is financially and emotionally damaging. There are some easy, cost-effective ways to protect your home this summer.


Lock windows and doors – and don’t forget the garage

Make sure you aren’t leaving doors and windows open or unlocked. This may sound like a given, but it’s easy to leave your garage door up when you’re running for the house with the groceries. Before you know it, you’re forced to shell out a few hundred to replace that lawn mower that was snatched due to your carelessness.

Don’t let newspapers and mail pile up

If you’re going on vacation, make it a point to contact the post office and have them hold your mail. Do the same with your newspaper. Nothing screams “No one is home – come on in!” like a pile of newspapers sitting at the end of your driveway.

Keep a light on


If you’re going out for the evening, or out of town for the week, make sure there’s always a light on inside – and outside – your home. If you’re concerned about energy costs, consider timers or motion-activated lights available at your local hardware store. These can act as effective deterrents for both criminals and rodents (bonus!).


Don’t advertise your plans

It may be tempting to broadcast your vacation plans via social media websites, but that might not be the smartest move. It doesn’t mean your former classmate will decide to raid your house because you’re out of town. But maybe her sketchy ex-boyfriend who has access to her account isn’t quite as trustworthy. It might be a stretch, but crazier things have happened. Just remember to think before you post.

Get to know your neighbors

Take advantage of your neighborhood watch program – if your community has one. Let your neighbors know when you’re going to be out of town and when you plan to return so they can watch your home. Give them your contact information in case of emergency. And remember to be a good neighbor and return the favor when they head out of town!


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About Money Management International

Money Management International (MMI) is a nonprofit, full-service credit counseling agency, providing confidential financial guidance, financial education, counseling, and debt management assistance to consumers since 1958. MMI helps consumers trim their expenses, develop a spending plan, and repay debts. Counseling is available by appointment in branch offices and 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by telephone and Internet. Services are available in English or Spanish. To learn more, call
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