Original Medicare (Parts A and B) does not cover prescription drug costs, but Americans enrolled in Medicare can purchase drug coverage, also known as Medicare Part D. Even with Part D, prescriptions can be costly because not all plans cover every type of medication. Here are some ways you can save on your medicines.

Try Discount Cards
Several prescription drug companies offer free drug discount cards. To make this offer, these companies negotiate lower rates on certain drugs with pharmacies. Find these cards through Medicare supplement Web sites, or ask your local pharmacist.

A good card should:

  • cost you nothing to obtain or use
  • save you up to 65 percent on generic drugs or 40 percent on branded and generic drugs combined

Remember, if you do not get a better price on the drug with the discount card, you do not have to use it.

Pharmaceutical Assistance Programs
Some federal, state, and private programs may be able to provide relief or help cover drug costs. In addition, some states offer State Pharmaceutical Assistance Programs (SPAP), which can help people with Medicare cover the costs of their drug plan premiums. Search for assistance programs by visiting BenefitsCheckUp.org. See if your state has an assistance program by visiting www.medicare.gov/spap.asp.

Make Sure Your Drugs Are Covered by Your Part D Benefit
Most plans change their pricing, benefits, and the drugs they cover each year. If you do not review your Medicare Part D benefit’s plan, you could be left paying full-price for some of your most-needed medicines. Unfortunately, none of the money you spend will count toward Medicare’s doughnut hole. Use online tools, such as Medicare.gov or PlanPrescriber.com to compare drug coverage and find the one that’s best for you.

Do Your Generic Homework
Patent protection is expiring for four of the top 75 brand-name drugs on the market during 2013—and many others have already gone generic. What does this mean for you? When drugs go generic, prices go down. It also means that coverage for the branded version becomes more expensive.

Mail-Order Your Meds
Ordering medicines through the mail can save you 50 percent or more on generics. For people on Medicare, some insurance companies are now offering mail-order drugs as low as $0 after your deductible is met.

Ask Your Doctor to Review Your Medications
Once a year, make a list of the medications you take and go through them with your primary care physician. Have him or her review all the medications you’re taking, including over-the-counter medications and dietary supplements. If more than one doctor has prescribed medication for you, this review may be especially useful. Your primary care doctor may be able to identify brand-name meds that have gone generic, find less expensive alternatives, and reduce duplicate prescriptions.

Review Your Drug Plan During the Annual Enrollment Period
Medicare’s Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) runs from October 15 to December 7 every year. It’s the one time of year when you can review your Medicare drug coverage to make sure you’re getting the best prices. If you make changes after this date, you may be charged.