Benefits of Buying 'Generic'

There's an ongoing debate about the merits of generic products as opposed to their better-known name-brand counterparts. There have even been studies on the subject. While the results have been mixed, few can really argue that there is something to be said for purchasing generic brands in order to save money. For the most part, consumers' buying decisions seem to depend predominately on individual preference and budget.

It's a proven fact that prescription drugs can bleed virtually anyone's bank account dry, particularly if they don't have health insurance. Even for those who do, the costs can still be somewhat prohibitive. For example, Crestor is a cholesterol-lowering drug. For patients that have insurance and have been prescribed this drug, the cost will be substantially reduced, but there's a catch. In one individual's experience, she was prescribed Crestor, which last year cost her out-of-pocket only $15 after insurance. However, this year, her insurance no longer pays for this drug and the cost to her is now over $150. The insurance company recommended that she switch to the generic drug Simvastatin, which is known by the marketing name Zocor and costs $9. Does this really make a difference? Yes, it does, because although Zocor is also a cholesterol-reducing drug, Crestor is significantly more effective in decreasing cholesterol levels.

What does this example mean to you? Every year, insurance companies issue mandates to pharmacies that, due to expense cuts, certain drugs will no longer be covered under a particular health plan. Thus, if your doctor has prescribed a specific drug and you try to get the prescription filled at your local pharmacy, you may be in for a rude awakening. The point here is that with healthcare costs continually rising, switching to generic drugs can save you quite a bit of money. But generic drugs are not always the full equivalent of or achieve the full effects of the name-brand products that they replace. Regardless, which one you take should be your choice and not the insurance company's.

On a lighter note, buying generic groceries can also save you quite a bit of money. Most, if not all, supermarkets carry store brands as well as generic brands. For example, you can purchase generic water and soft drinks, paper products and canned goods. But, again, depending upon your needs, not all generic products are quite as good as the real thing. So, after a bit of trial-and-error, you may end up deciding to go with some generic-brand items and some name-brand products in order to keep everyone happy while saving a few dollars.

There's no question that buying generic, whether it's groceries, prescription drugs or other consumer goods, offers more savings than purchasing name- or premium brands. But do a little research. For drugs, this should involve pointedly asking your physician which choice would be best for you. Although most of the time the generic equivalent will taste the same or produce similar results, there are still a few occasions where it might be best to 'go with what you know.'

blog comments powered by Disqus