Trusted health care providers are an essential part of personal and familial health and wellness. With different providers playing many different roles in health care today, you actually don’t need to go to an MD, who can charge co-pays for even a consultation, for all of your health care needs. Depending on your state’s laws, your drugstore pharmacist may have many freedoms that can actually substitute for a simple doctor’s visit.
From a board-certified and licensed pharmacy technician, here are tips and tricks to getting the most out of your local retail pharmacy.
1. You Can Ask the Pharmacist About Over-the-Counter Products
Most people know that they can ask if they have questions about their prescriptions, but most pharmacists are also happy to answer questions about products sold in the store. Having been to school to four to seven years for a Doctor of Pharmacy degree, they are qualified to answer your questions about common ailments and personal medical needs.
Confused about different types of cold and flu products? Need advice about Advil versus Tylenol? Need help in treating poison ivy or picking out a knee brace? Just stop at the pharmacist counter and ask to speak to the pharmacist.
2. You Can Check For Drug Interactions
Most modern computers automatically flag any interactions with prescriptions for the pharmacist to check before finalizing a new prescription. When joining a new pharmacy, it’s also best to tell the technician about any drug allergies or serious conditions so they can note it in your profile.
Over the counter products can interact with other medications, so when you buy a new product, it’s best to ask the pharmacist if it interacts with anything you’re currently taking. Remember, it’s preferable to get all your prescriptions at the same pharmacy so they can easily cross-reference medications for interactions and catch anything that is potentially dangerous.
3. You Can Get Certain Immunizations Right There
Depending on the state, pharmacies will often offer simple shots for common ailments including Influenza (they reformulate for new strains annually), MMR, Tetanus, and Shingles. The pharmacists receive extra training for immunizations and are certified for sterilization and intravenous techniques by the state. Although often covered by insurance, the flu vaccine, for example, only costs about $30 out-of-pocket.
4. You Can Transfer Prescriptions
Did you find a pharmacy closer to your house, or is your pharmacy sold out of a medication that you need today? Pharmacies have a legal obligation to transfer prescriptions over the phone for non-controlled substances if you ask them to. These laws create healthy competition for prescription pricing and ensure that you don’t run out of medication just because your pharmacy doesn’t have it in stock.
5. You Can Join Discount Programs If You Don’t Have Insurance
Most large chain stores have discount programs for a low annual fee. Walgreens offers a Prescriptions Savings Card for a $20 annual free and reports hundreds of dollars of savings per year compared out-of-pocket prices. CVS/Caremark offers a Health Savings Pass for 90-day supplies of certain generics at $11.99 for a $15 annual fee.
If you don’t want to get an yearly membership, you can go to a pharmacy with a $4 generic drug program, such as Wal-Mart or Target. Many also have manufacturer’s coupons that were dropped off by pharmaceutical representatives for certain brand-name medications.
Count approximately how many prescriptions you receive per year to figure out which option is the more cost-effective for you. If it’s only one or two, and it’s a drug on the generic list, the $4 plan may the preferable of the two options.
6. You Can Write Prescriptions Off On Your Taxes
In tough financial times, everyone is looking for ways to save money. Health expenses are actually covered expenses as write-offs on your annual income taxes and prescriptions are included in these expenses.
There are couple ways you can get figure out what your prescription spending is for tax purposes. You can go through your insurance company who should have a list of all your claims or you can go to the pharmacy and ask for a list of your prescriptions with the cost for the previous tax year. Many pharmacies will even mail the list to your house free of charge.
The Staff Is There To Help You
Don’t be intimidated by the lab coats. These are health care professional trained in customer service as well as pharmacy, and are there to answer any questions you might have. If you don’t understand the prescription instructions, do not hesitate to ask. They will try to make your experiences in sickness and in health as simple and as pleasant as possible.
A good health care professional should be understanding and committed to creating a professional and respectful atmosphere for their patients. If you simply use the resources available to you, you can save money, save your health, and maximize the value of your local drugstore.