Ask Your Doctor about Generics (225/365)

As I’ve mentioned before on The Simple Dollar, I take Synthroid every morning, as I’ve done since I was three days old. Synthroid is a medication used to treat hypothyroidism, which I’ve had since birth.

A few years ago, my doctor decided to switch my medication to a generic version of Synthroid for a trial run. For most of a year, I took the generic version of the drug with no ill effects. (However, it didn’t save me any money because of our strong prescription drug coverage.)

At the end of the period, due to some studies my doctor had read, he decided to put me back on the normal Synthroid. Again, the cost made no difference to me and I didn’t notice much of a difference at any point.

However, let’s assume that I had weaker prescription drug coverage and that the generic version of Synthroid was substantially cheaper than the name brand version.

This little switch would have potentially saved me hundreds of dollars a year.

If you’re taking a prescription drug – or are given a prescription by your doctor – that’s a savings well worth looking into.

Ask Your Doctor about Generics (225/365)

It’s simple. When you go to your doctor and are prescribed a medication, ask if there’s a generic version of the drug available and whether it is significantly different than the medication you’re being prescribed.

Much like any other product, sometimes the generic version is identical and sometimes it’s not. In the cases where it’s different, sometimes the alternative version will work just fine and sometimes it won’t.

For example, in the case of Synthroid, there are many people I’ve communicated with online who have experienced depression, headaches, and other symptoms from taking the generic version of the drug. For me, it worked just fine.

Why make the switch? For most people, generic drugs are significantly less expensive than the name brand version. Many stores sell $4 generic prescriptions, providing you with a month of the generic drug for just $4. Compared to the high cost of many name brand drugs, that’s a big difference.

If you try a generic drug and find that it doesn’t work for you, simply return to your doctor and explain the situation. You’ll get a prescription for the name brand version or else a prescription for a different medication.

Most of the time, though, you’ll simply find that the generic drug fulfills your needs and saves you some money.

This post is part of a yearlong series called “365 Ways to Live Cheap (Revisited),” in which I’m revisiting the entries from my book “365 Ways to Live Cheap,” which is available at Amazon and at bookstores everywhere. Images courtesy of Brittany Lynne Photography, the proprietor of which is my “photography intern” for this project.

Trent Hamm
Trent Hamm
Founder of The Simple Dollar

Trent Hamm founded The Simple Dollar in 2006 after developing innovative financial strategies to get out of debt. Since then, he’s written three books (published by Simon & Schuster and Financial Times Press), contributed to Business Insider, US News & World Report, Yahoo Finance, and Lifehacker, and been featured in The New York Times, TIME, Forbes, The Guardian, and elsewhere.

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