Monday, August 29, 2016

Top Tips for Fall Savings During Back-to-School Season




If you have school-aged children, fall typically means back-to-school season, which means spending. From an updated wardrobe to accommodate your growing kids, to school supplies and technology, it’s understandable to seek out ways to save – and we can help. Check out these ideas and tips for preparing your student(s) for the school year without breaking the bank. Even if no one in your home is headed back to school, these tips can apply to any fall purchases, from clothing and boots to household items.

The first tip may not be the most fun you’ve ever had, but taking inventory can result in great savings. Here’s how to get started:
  • Clothing: Evaluate what still fits, what can be passed on to another child, and what won’t work for anyone. If still in good condition, items that no longer fit anyone in your household can be taken to your closest consignment shop, which may result in cash back if your items sell. Take stock of footwear and accessories in this manner, too. Utilize what you have available, and capitalize on what won’t work.
  • Gear/Supplies: Check backpacks, desks, and closets for any supplies, i.e. lunch bags, pens and pencils, and binders, leftover from last year that can still be used. Don’t overlook these “leftovers,” which can result in significant fall savings.
  • Technology: Evaluate your family’s needs with a critical eye. Do you need one computer or more? Do you have a student going off to college who requires a laptop? Only buy what is truly a priority.
Once you take inventory, make a detailed list of your family’s needs. Before you head to the store, reach out to family, friends, and neighbors who are also preparing to head back to school and host a swap – what is no longer useful for your family may be useful for another family – or vice versa. After the swap, revise your list to only those items that you still truly need. Stick to your list while you’re doing back-to-school shopping. While it’s easy to sway from your list for just one item, then another, this can quickly lead to overspending.

Your next step should be to determine a strategy. First, find coupons for items you need through sites such as coupons.com or retailmenot.com. Also, compare prices. It might be necessary to shop at more than one store to find the best prices on the items you need. Research sales online before you head to the store to ensure you’re getting the best deal.

Additional tips:
  • Remember: Unless a school uniform is required, kids can usually wear many summer items for the first few weeks of school before transitioning into the fall season. Then, they can add layers of additional clothing as needed. Take advantage of this extra time and put off additional spending for a few weeks, which can help your household’s cash flow.
  • Don’t forget to check out consignment and second-hand shops, especially for trendy pieces, which are usually more expensive but don’t stay in style for very long. 
  • When purchasing notebooks, binders, and other school supplies, stick with the plain and simple version. Those with specialty characters and themes may cost 20-30% more. Your kids can have fun customizing their own supplies with stickers and other add-ons. Have a back-to-school afternoon, creating unique looks for school supplies and excitement for the new school year. 
  • Some municipalities/cities offer back-to-school supplies free of charge at local events. Check your local listings for programs near you, which can offer significant fall savings for your family.
Back-to-school time doesn’t mean you need to fall into a spending trap. There are a lot of ways to find the best for less this fall.

And, of course, going back to school can also mean the return of illnesses for your family, as flu season hits and your kids are back in an environment more likely to spread germs. Stay ahead of the game and get your free FamilyWize Prescription Savings Card to ensure that you’re paying the lowest price on all the prescription medications your family may need.

Download a free card online today or request a card by calling 1-800-222-2818. You can also get the free FamilyWize app, available for both Android at the Google Play Store and Apple Devices (iPhone and iPad) at the App Store.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Healthy Aging Month - Caring for the Elderly



 As the chorus of the 1970s Bill Withers song goes, “Lean on me when you’re not strong, and I’ll help you carry on.” But those words can take on a new meaning as your loved ones age. Sometimes, in spite best efforts, the effects of aging, such as reduced mental and physical function, strip away independence and require help from a family member or caregiver.

With the approach of September’s Healthy Aging Month, this is an ideal time to evaluate the health status of your loved ones and potentially prepare for a future role as a caregiver. This can be overwhelming, but the following tips will make the transition easier, whether you or someone else will be looking after the person.

Tip #1 – View institutionalization as a last resort


Nursing home placement is rarely the first choice of the elderly, or their relatives, and for good reason. No matter how good the institution is, being placed in a nursing home can be traumatic, not to mention costly.

Finding workable alternative solutions that allow the aging person to stay in their home, or at least with those they know and love, is preferable. Keeping familiar surroundings and faces in the person’s daily life eliminates the stress that can occur when being moved to a nursing home.

Tip #2 – Find intermediate solutions involving close friends or family


Though this may be hard to find, a loved one living nearby may be able to extend the aging person’s independence by dropping in regularly to assist where it’s needed, whether that’s in the form of housekeeping, cooking, or personal care.

If you’re too busy to take on the extra work, consider hiring a younger relative, such as teenager or responsible adolescent in the family who could use a little extra spending money. It creates welcome social interaction and can be valuable job training for the person helping out.

Tip #3 – Seek professional intermediate solutions


If there is no one available among family and friends, there are many resources to assist professionally at home. For example:
  • If the aging person is already in a retirement community, research the transitional services available on-site – staff resources who can check in on your relative and assist with certain tasks that have become too difficult for them.
  • If living in their home, there are many in-home care provider services available, some of which are government subsidized. These services provide regular in-home visits to handle personal or household tasks.

Tip #4 – Look for electronic support


To help an aging elder to stay safe while maintaining a degree of independence, consider gadgets that can help. For example:
  • A wearable alarm button, often referred to as a Senior Alert Device or a Medical Alert for Seniors, that is manually activated by the person by clicking a button on the device – often a bracelet or necklace. Most operate like cellular mobile devices, connecting the wearer to selected loved ones or to a company operator, who can determine if emergency personnel should be called.
  • Wearables that monitor vital signs are part of a growing medical devices trend, including ECG monitors, glucose monitors, blood pressure, and pulse monitors. The wearable device tracks patients' movements and vitals, and then sends health measurements to caregivers or to their doctor. 
  • For a loved one suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia, you can get assistance devices that are worn around the neck and that boldly state on them that the wearer has mental impairment. When activated, it connects to selected friends or relatives. These are valuable if the person has wandered away from home and is lost or confused.

Tip #5 – Save them money on their prescription medicines


Many of the elderly are on numerous medications, the cost of which can really add up! Help your elderly friend or relative sign up for a free FamilyWize Prescription Savings Card. Now more than ever, they can benefit from discounts of 43%, on average. If you are responsible for picking up prescriptions for that person, you can use your own FamilyWize card to save on their behalf.

Download a free card online today or request a card by calling 1-800-222-2818. You can also get the free FamilyWize app, available for both Android at the Google Play Store and Apple Devices (iPhone and iPad) at the App Store.

It can be difficult to watch a loved one age, but it’s possible to help them do so with grace and dignity.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Why Has My Medication Gotten So Expensive?

Specialty medications aren’t the only ones that you can expect to pay high prices for anymore. Even commonly prescribed drugs, like infection-fighting antibiotics, are seeing hefty price increases. Here’s what’s behind the price hikes, and what you can do about them.

Reasons for the increases

According to Harvard Health Publications, from Harvard Medical School, there are many contributing factors as to why we’re seeing a rise in the price of medications.

Corporate approach

Take the case of a drug called Daraprim, used to treat parasitic infections caused by toxoplasmosis. There’s a small market for the drug, without much competition. The price was stable for years. But when a new drug company acquired the drug, it raised the price 5,000%, from $13.50 to $750/pill. Why? Because it lacks the competition needed to drive the price down.

Supply/demand

A shortage of Doxycycline (an antibiotic) in 2011, due to quality concerns in a plant used in the composition of the drug, resulted in a 6,000% increase in the cost. The price for this somewhat common medication went from six cents to $3.36/pill. As with any consumer item, when there is a shortage in the product, the price increases.

Price spiking

Defined as a sudden increase in a drug’s price for a specific period of time, price spikes are not an uncommon practice. As long as drug companies are not collectively conspiring to raise prices, there is nothing illegal about this.

Unfortunately, generic medications used to be the lower-cost alternative to prescription drugs, but that isn’t always the case any longer. In fact, generic prices have actually increased, too. Recently, almost 400 generic medications have seen price increases of more than 1,000%, according to an AARP report.  

Some experts blame regulatory changes associated with the Affordable Care Act, since drug companies drive up prices when they’re concerned about the effect of regulations.

Even pharmacists are often surprised and taken off-guard by the sudden spikes. In many cases, the cost of prescription drugs has outstripped inflation.

All of these causes together are responsible for the price increases that have a major effect on consumers. Consumers pay for about 18% of prescription drugs out-of-pocket, and when the costs rise, that’s a financial burden and an overall health concern on a national level. In fact, approximately 25% of prescriptions are not even filled due to cost.

Ways to save

So, how can you, the consumer, save money on your prescription drugs? Don’t worry, there are ways!

  • Always ask your physician about the lowest-cost alternative for treatment. Sometimes that’s all it takes!
  • Many people don’t realize that you can (and should) comparison shop for prescriptions based on price. Use the FamilyWize Drug Price Lookup Tool to find the lowest cost drug at a pharmacy near you.
  • Utilize the FamilyWize Prescription Savings Card to make sure that you’re getting the lowest price on your prescriptions. It’s free and available to everyone, and you can use it on every medication, every time you visit the pharmacy!
  • Contact your local representative to discuss these issues and let your voice be heard on this matter.

While drug prices might be on the increase, there are steps you can take to manage the costs – stay informed, compare prices, and don’t forget to use your FamilyWize card (or app) to help save on a regular basis.


Monday, August 8, 2016

Know Your Price: The FamilyWize Drug Price Lookup Tool



 Are you overpaying for your prescription medications? Many of us are simply because we aren’t sure how or where to find the most affordable price for a particular medication. While the cost for the same drug may differ significantly from one pharmacy to the next, even in your own neighborhood, it can take a significant amount of time and research to determine which pharmacy you should go to. We’ve got good news: finding the best price is easy, thanks to the FamilyWize Drug Price Lookup Tool.

The FamilyWize Drug Price Lookup Tool is free and easily accessible on the FamilyWize website. All you need to know is the name of your medication, the dosage, and the zip code for the area where you’d like to visit the pharmacy.

FamilyWize takes that information and displays the price you’ll pay for your prescription at a variety of pharmacies (if you use the FamilyWize Prescription Savings Card). Armed with this information, you can make the best choice about which pharmacy to visit, knowing that you’ll be paying the lowest price available.

The FamilyWize Drug Price Lookup Tool


Using the Drug Price Lookup Tool couldn’t be easier; in fact, it’s right on the homepage of the website! It looks like this:


Simply type in the name of your medication and then enter your zip code, or the zip code where you plan to visit a pharmacy. Click the “See your savings” button, and voil√†!

In this example, we entered Zoloft as the drug and 37401 (Chattanooga, TN) as the zip code. The results provide key comparison facts, such as the dose form, the strength, and the quantity, so you know that you’re comparing apples to apples – or, in this case, 30 Zoloft 100 MG tablets to 30 Zoloft 100 MG tablets.

You can also sort the price range from low to high, filter by generic or brand name medication, select major pharmacies only versus all pharmacies available, and choose the maximum distance for the location of the pharmacies.


The results then list the area pharmacies that carry your medication (in this example, it’s Zoloft) and the exact price you’ll pay at each if you use the free FamilyWize card or app. For Zoloft, the prices varied from as little as $10.99 to as much as $27.48 – nearly double the price! If this were a monthly prescription for you, the difference over the course of a full year would be significant.
Start saving with FamilyWize

FamilyWize makes it easy for you to save. The FamilyWize Drug Price Lookup Tool is a free and easy way to comparison shop for your prescriptions, but that’s only one step. Insurance or not, you can save significantly – an average of 43% – on your prescriptions with the FamilyWize Prescription Savings Card.

The free FamilyWize Prescription Savings Card ensures that you’re paying the lowest price, whether it’s the pharmacy’s, the insurance price, or the FamilyWize price.

Download a free card online today or request a card by calling 1-800-222-2818. You can also get the free FamilyWize app, available for both Android at the Google Play Store and Apple Devices (iPhone and iPad) at the App Store.