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How to Save Money on Your Cancer Medications

Saving Money at the Clinic

You'll have fewer options for saving money on the medications you receive directly from your clinic. However, there are a few steps you can take to minimize your medication-related costs. These include:
  • Consider participating in a clinical trial. Study-related costs, including study medications, are usually paid for by the study sponsor (usually a drug company).
  • Ask about charity. Many clinics and hospitals, even for-profit ones, have programs set up to help patients afford their care.
  • Ask about discounts, such as discounts for payment in full or discounts for people without insurance.
  • Ask about manufacturers' patient assistance programs. Some manufacturers will lower the costs of expensive medications for people with financial need.

What About Specialty Medications?

If your insurance requires you to use a specialty pharmacy or a mail-order pharmacy for one of your medications, there isn't much you can do to reduce the costs. You won't be able to use a discount card or manufacturer's coupon, and don't expect to find any charitable or discount options.
If you find that the price of a specialty medication is hard to swallow, talk to your doctor about whether the medication is really worth the cost for your situation. 

What Not to Do

Some steps you can take to save money just aren't worth the risk. Don't keep switching pharmacies to get the free gift cards they offer when transferring medications. Don't get your medications from several different pharmacies. Don't commit insurance fraud (for instance, by lying to your doctor or pharmacist about how often you use a medication in order to obtain a larger supply for the same copay).
Don't skip doses of important medications. Don't cut any tablets without making sure it's safe to do so. Don't yell at your pharmacist for not using discount cards in combination with insurance or for not using a manufacturer's coupon in combination with a federally funded program. He or she is just following the law.
Finally, keep in mind that you need to account for all medication-related costs in your calculations. An older, cheaper medication may appear to be much more affordable, but if a newer drug is safer and requires less monitoring, the newer one might be more cost effective in the end. 
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