A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found that more than 11 percent of adults in the United States don’t take their medications as prescribed as a way to cut costs. Among the uninsured, that figure jumps to more than 33 percent.

Prescription medication pricing varies widely, and those who lack insurance often find their medications unaffordable. Even those with insurance face steep co-pays and high deductibles that must be met before their coverage kicks in.

But skipping doses, taking less than the prescribed amount, or foregoing the doctor’s recommendations can cause more harm down the road, leading to worsening health conditions or even more costly emergency room visits.

Fortunately, there are resources available to help those who find the cost of prescriptions out of reach. Here are a few suggestions if you are one of the growing number of Americans who struggle to pay for their prescriptions:

  • Your first step should be to speak to your doctor. Ask if a generic equivalent can be prescribed in place of a brand name drug; this can save a significant amount of money. If you are taking the drug for a short period of time, your doctor may be able to provide you with a free sample. The office may even be able to provide you with a money-saving coupon.
  • Next, talk to your pharmacist. The pharmacy may offer a discount program or suggestions for ways to save money on the medication. For example, it may be cheaper to fill a prescription for double the amount of the same drug at half the dose. The pharmacist can advise you if this is an option.
  • Many pharmaceutical companies offer assistance programs for patients who have difficulty affording their medications. Visit the website of the company that manufactures your medication and look for links to assistance programs. You may need to provide financial information and/or have your doctor verify your prescription.
  • If you are over 55, consider joining AARP. Members have access to prescription discount programs including a mail-order program with below retail prices.
  • Log onto needymeds.org. This site lists discount programs by medication and is a great resource for finding money-saving opportunities.
  • Lastly, try one of the many free discount prescription programs available. Most are free; steer clear of any that ask you to pay a monthly fee. You can find these types of programs online by searching for “prescription discount card.”

Experts emphasize that skipping doses or simply not taking medications as prescribed can lead to further complications. Instead, invest the time into finding help with paying for your medications so you can give yourself your best chance of getting and staying in good health.