PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Insurance companies are charging higher and higher co-pays for prescription medications.

Some co-pays now top $90 a month, which makes coupons from drug manufacturers enticing.

However, Consumer Reports has some cautions.

Before heading to the pharmacy these days, more and more people are heading online to snag a coupon.

Many big-name drugs are offering coupons and other discounts with ads saying, “Save up to $15 on each prescription for the antidepressant Pristiq,” or “30-day free trial for the statin, Crestor.”

According to a Consumer Reports survey, nearly 19 million people who regularly take medication used a drug coupon last year.

But, that’s not necessarily a good deal.

“Just because a brand-name drug is available with a coupon doesn’t mean it’s your least expensive option. Less expensive generics may be available that are equally effective,” Dr. John Santa said.

Insurance co-pays for generics are often much lower, sometimes one-tenth the cost.

Then there’s Lipitor, whose money-saving offer is being heavily advertised as low as $4 a month with a Lipitor co-pay card.

For people already taking Lipitor, Consumer Reports said the co-pay card can be a real money-saver for now.

“There is a generic for Lipitor, but at this point it’s just about as expensive. So, if you qualify for the $4 Lipitor program, it’s a good deal,” Dr. Santa said.

As with many drug coupons, you don’t qualify if you’re covered by Medicaid, Medicare, or other federal or state health care programs.

“For people without insurance, it is possible to use many of these coupons. But you’re still going to pay a lot of money out of pocket,” Dr. Santa said.

The best way to save on prescriptions is to see if your doctor can prescribe a less-expensive medicine.

Consumer Reports said you can get discounts on many generic prescription drugs at stores like Target, Walmart, Walgreens, CVS, Rite-Aid, and other big retailers and supermarkets.

You can read Consumer Reports’ complete article on drug coupons on their website.


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