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Help paying for prescriptions

The Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner has a list of resources that can assist you in paying for your medications.


Statewide Health Insurance Benefits Advisors offer free, unbiased, confidential health care advice on Medicare and health care choices.

Benefits Check Up

For adults over 55, the National Council on Aging has benefit programs that could help you pay for medications, health care, food, and more.

Best Buy Drugs

Consumer Reports has information on prescription drugs and the illnesses they treat.

Additional assistance

Generic medications

Ask your doctor or pharmacist about substituting a generic drug for a brand name drug or ask your doctor if you can safely switch to a different drug that has a generic equivalent.

  • Generic drugs are usually much less expensive than brand name drugs.
  • Generic drugs are manufactured after the brand name drug's patent has expired. Most FDA-approved generic drugs are almost identical to their brand name versions. They may be a different color or shape but they can be safely used in place of the brand name drug.
  • When the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finds a generic drug to be therapeutically equivalent to the brand name drug, the FDA assures the physician, pharmacist, and patient that they can expect the same safety and efficacy. Your pharmacist will know when the FDA has found a generic medicine to be therapeutically equivalent to the brand name medicine.

Over-the-counter medications

Sometimes an over-the-counter drug will work just as well as a prescription drug. Ask your doctor if an over-the-counter medication will meet your needs.

  • Several drugs that were available only by prescription can now be purchased over-the-counter.
  • The over-the-counter drugs often cost much less than the prescription drugs.
  • Make sure both your pharmacist and doctor know that you're taking over-the-counter medications.

Buying strategies

  • When starting a new medication, you may want to order a small quantity the first time you fill the prescription. Be sure that new prescription drugs work for you before buying larger quantities. Try a week's worth. That way, if the medication doesn't help you or you have a reaction, you will have spent only a fraction of the money. You can usually buy a smaller quantity of a drug at a retail pharmacy than you can through mail order.
  • If you're on a medication that works for you and you expect to take it for a long time, you might save money by buying a larger quantity. Medications are usually cheaper per dose if you buy a larger quantity, such as a three-month supply instead of a one month supply.
  • In some cases, you can save by splitting higher dosage pills. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you can buy your medicine in a higher dosage pill that you can divide with a pill splitter. The cost per dose can be less when buying a higher dosage. Some pharmacists will even split the pills for you. Taking the right dosage is important. You should never split pills without approval from your doctor or pharmacist.
  • Comparison shop. Different pharmacies charge different prices for the same medications. Sometimes the difference in price is fairly significant. It can pay to shop around.