The Shocking Amount of Money Seniors Can Save with Generic Drugs

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For many older adults, it can be a struggle to buy the medications they need for significant health issues. Some seniors tragically have to choose between buying food or medicine. You can make your limited income go further, if your doctor does not restrict you to name-brand prescriptions. The AARP reveals the shocking amount seniors can save with generic drugs.

The AARP looked at the retail prices for generic drugs as opposed to brand-name versions. The organization’s RX Price Watch Study found that people who use brand-name medicine pay 18 times more than people who buy the generic versions. The study focused on some of the most common prescription drugs that older Americans take.

Here are some highlights of the report:

  • People who took a generic drug for a chronic illness paid $365 a year, on the average.
  • The average cost of the same drug in brand-name form was $6,798 a year.
  • The cost difference between brand-name and generic drugs has increased a great deal during the last few years.
  • Brand-name drugs cost almost six times as much as their generic versions in 2013.
  • Three years later, in 2015, the brand-name medicines cost 12 times as much as the generic versions of the same prescription.
  • Just two years after that point, the cost of brand-name medications had soared to be 18 times more than their generic versions.

If you take prescription medicine for a chronic condition, you might be able to save yourself more than $6,000 a year. The study averaged the brand-name and generic prices for several common drugs that seniors take, revealing some generic versions that will provide a modest savings. Other generic drugs, may be able to save you more than $6,000 a year, or $500 a month.

Just think what you could do with an extra $500 a month. You could afford more nutritious food, thereby improving your overall health and decreasing your need for some prescriptions. You could feel better physically and reduce your stress and worry. Your hard-earned savings and retirement income could be enough for you to make ends meet and not run out of money in your golden years.

Talk with your doctor about whether using a generic drug is safe and appropriate for you. Ask your physician to check the box on the prescription slip (paper slip or digital form) that allows the pharmacist to fill the prescription with a generic rather than a name-brand medicine. In some situations, there might be a valid reason for you to take the brand-name drug. For most people though, the generic form will work just as well as the expensive brand that advertises on television.

Additional Ways to Save Money on Prescriptions

Using your health insurance, Medicare or Medicaid might not be the best way to pay for prescription drugs. Many people pay less for their medicine at the pharmacy, by using a service like instead of using insurance. For example, if you carry an Epipen for life-threatening allergic reactions, filling the prescription could cost you around $500 or $600 through your insurance plan, but only about $75 to $150 with a program like GoodRX.

Because the cost of name-brand drugs has skyrocketed over the years, several companies have seized the business opportunity to save people money on prescriptions. You can perform an online search and talk to your pharmacist about how you can save the most money on your prescriptions, whether you take the medicine for a chronic condition, an acute illness, or an injury.


AARP. “AARP Report: Generics 18 Times Cheaper Than Brand-Name Drugs.” (accessed September 14, 2019)


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