chocolate-567234_640One of the major dilemmas facing older people is the fact that they have to get by on a fixed income. If that is a scenario that applies to you it might be the reason why you sometimes might even have to make a stark choice between paying for your meds or getting a decent meal.

It shouldn’t be this way and there are ways to help you purchase the prescription drugs you need within the sort of weekly budget that you have available.

Here is a look at how to get the prescription meds you need and still manage to balance the books.

An added pressure you could do without

Some seniors are having to contend with multiple chronic conditions but because they are on a fixed income this can create a heavy financial burden trying to pay for the medication they need.

If you find yourself in this situation it can be hugely frustrating to think that you have worked hard through your life and now only have only a specific amount of money to live off, you find the cost of your meds spiraling out of control and beyond your level of affordability.

There are plenty of facts and figures around to suggest that high costs are taking their toll on seniors, as some are having to spend money beyond their Medicare limit and on top of the health insurance premiums that often exceed over $4,000 each year.

A further complication is the fact that some of the new drugs now available are not always covered by some of these standard plans meaning that if you require a specialty drug as part of your ongoing treatment you could be facing an annual cost that is well over $10,000.

Understanding what’s covered

There is the chance that you may be eligible for a patient assistance program that will help you to cope with the cost of your meds, but as an initial starting point, it would be a good idea to take the time and trouble to understand the details of your current plan’s coverage.

One of the fundamental questions that you need to find the answer to is whether you have to meet a certain deductible before your non-preventative drug coverage comes into force.

When you consider that roughly half of all medical plans have some sort of deductible attached to them, or alternatively you are asked to make a co-payment immediately, it is important to know what sort of coverage you have signed up for and what your contribution is likely to be.

Speak up about your drugs

Another way of making the most financially savvy decision regarding your treatment options is to discuss your financial concerns and situation with your doctor.

Your doctor is unlikely to know which drugs are covered in your plan and which ones are excluded but if you talk frankly with them about your financial concerns and ability to pay the ongoing costs from your fixed income, there might be a generic alternative, for example, that could be covered by your plan.

There is a good chance that you might save money by switching drugs and there is even the possible of a pharmaceutical alternative, which involves the use of different active ingredients to treat the same condition.

Make friends with your pharmacist

While you don’t have to take that tip literally it can often be the case that your pharmacist might turn out to be one the best advocates for ensuring that you pay the best possible price for your medications.

Getting to know your pharmacist and talking to them about your situation could be minutes well spent if they are able to identify ways to save you money by suggesting viable alternatives and different options.

Your pharmacist can often help you determine when it makes more sense to use your insurance plan and when it would be more cost-effective to pay cash.

All of these sorts of decisions can end up making a substantial difference throughout the year, especially when you are on a fixed income.

An estimated 10% of seniors are thought to be regularly giving up basic needs in order to pay for their medications. Don’t suffer in silence about your financial concerns, as there are often ways to bridge the gap or find a suitable alternative that works for you.

What you don’t want to be doing is getting into a situation where you are choosing meds over meals.

Emma Burke is a part-time volunteer at her town’s senior center. She loves to help the elderly live better lives by sharing her insights on a variety of health and aging websites.