It's an ongoing issue we deal with every day here in the United States: the shocking rise of drug prices. Some of the reasons behind why this is the case are issues behind-the-scenes that are so systemic, it can be every day folks like you and me feel a bit powerless.

Whatever your ideological views on how we might best deal with this ultimately unsustainable reality, we have do the best we can to deal with it, every day.

Consumer Reports recently did a special report in regard to this issue. You can learn more about that here. As part of the conclusions they've drawn, they shared some of the real-world ways we may be able to do our part to lower our drug costs. A few of their suggestions?

Talk with your doctor. You may be able to get a generic version of the drug you need. These are chemically-identical in many cases and can be up to 90% cheaper. Whoa. You may also look into whether or not there is an alternative, older drug available that is significantly less expensive.

Also, why not ask your doctor about potential over-the-counter options? Sometimes the new, "fancy-schmancy" drugs are just a combination of two or three older drugs. Always check with you doctor, but you may be able to purchase these separately for a fraction of the price.

And when you're talking with the pharmacist...Ask him or her if there's any way to make your medication more affordable. Consumer Reports has secret shoppers that have discovered pharmacists may be able to find discounts about which you'd have never been aware otherwise--including helping you find drug manufacturer discounts.

Look into programs that offer patient assistance. Hey, it always worth checking in to see if you may qualify for any of the income-based assistance programs. Some companies have even raised the cutoff income levels to as high as 100K.

Re-examine your insurance plan. If I were to try and imagine one of the most un-fun activities in which to engage, poring over insurance plans would be near the top of the list. However, it's vitally important. Make sure you choose your insurance plan with care. Check into which options are most helpful for you and your health situation, in particular. Another option? Time to re-visit that idea about opening a health-savings account. These let you save money, pretax, to use for qualified health expenses.

My personal hope? I hope the healthcare landscape of our nation changes in a way that is most conducive to the health of its people. I'll leave that there.

In the meantime, we must do all we can and navigate the "wild west" of healthcare and drug costs as best we can.


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