October is Talk About Your Medicines Month, and open enrollment – when many people can choose new health coverage for the coming year – is around the corner. That makes this season a great time to have a frank conversation with your doctor about your prescription medications. Here are four key topics to consider discussing at your next appointment.
1. Ask about value and quality of generic drugs
There’s a perception that more expensive means better with medications. That’s not necessarily the case.
Generic medications often are more affordable, have the same formulation, usage and safety as their brand-name equivalents. They’ve also undergone rigorous FDA testing and approval.
Generics are time-tested, too. Often, they start as a brand-name drug when they’re first launched. But, when their patent expires (usually after 20 years), the drug may become available as a generic. That means generic medications have years of brand-name usage behind their formula.
2. Discuss your cost concerns
If you’re worried about the cost of a medication, mention your price concerns to your doctor. They can help find the most appropriate and affordable option for you.
Your doctor may offer you some suggestions on how to get the medications you need as affordably as possible, including:
- Using an in-network pharmacy or ordering from your plan’s home delivery pharmacy.
- Finding covered medications using drug-pricing tools available through your health plan’s app or website. Some doctors may have access to your benefit and drug pricing information through your health plan’s website or other tools available from insurers.
- Prescribing you a lower cost option first before moving to costlier options.
- Making diet and lifestyle changes to help reduce your need for medication.
- A discount or rebate from the drug manufacturer, your health plan or an association related to your condition.
3. Be honest about alcohol, supplements and other meds
Drug interactions can be dangerous. When you’re prescribed a new medication, be truthful about your questions and concerns. Your doctor needs the whole picture to help you make appropriate health decisions. Talk to your doctor and pharmacist about:
- Other medications you take, including supplements and over-the-counter medications. Don’t forget medications prescribed by other doctors.
- Whether you drink alcohol or use recreational drugs, how much and how often.
4. Ask about side effects
Every person reacts to medications differently. If you’re worried, trust your doctor's and pharmacist's expertise.
- Before starting a new medication, understand what side effects to expect and how long they might last.
- Know what side effects could be serious. If you notice potentially serious effects, should you call your doctor, check with your pharmacist or head straight to the emergency department or urgent care?
If you need more information to help make some of these decisions, look into resources that your health plan may provide, such as an app, a website cost calculator or a customer service line. These resources may help you improve your health, save money and choose the right prescription and medical coverage, now and in the future.