But even if you pay only $3 a month for Lipitor (as is the case for people covered by the Cigna RX1 plan, for example), the entire cost of the drug under that plan—$167—is put toward your “doughnut hole” limit of $2,930. If you take multiple drugs, that raises the chance that you’ll hit the maximum before year’s end, at which point you’ll start paying half the cost of your brand-name drugs. If you’re concerned about cost or maxing out your coverage, ask your doctor to prescribe the generic version of a drug whenever available, even if it means a few extra dollars in co-payments up front.
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The Viagra effect for less
The erectile dysfunction drug Viagra (sildenafil) comes in 25-, 50-, and 100-milligram pills, none of which are slated to become available as generics until 2019. But sildenafil is also sold as Revatio, a 20-milligram pill for pulmonary arterial hypertension that will become available as a generic in September. (Pfizer makes both drugs.) Men who take the 25-milligram dose of Viagra ($23 a pill) could talk with their doctor about switching to a 20-milligram pill of generic sildenafil (expected to drop to $10 a pill by March 2013). Those who take higher doses of Viagra are better off staying with the branded version for now. But by 2015, generic sildenafil is expected to cost $1 a pill; at that point, men who take 50 or 100 milligrams of Viagra might combine multiple 20-milligram pills of generic sildenafil.