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Will Your Insurance Cover Your Vitamins?

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Americans spent $35 billion on over-the-counter (OTC) drugs in 2018[1]. Some of these medications treat symptoms, and some are believed to prevent illnesses. In an attempt to maintain health, more and more Americans are turning to vitamins and supplements for weight loss, boosting immunity, and nutrition. In fact, 77 percent of Americans take dietary supplements, 98 percent of which are vitamins and minerals[2].

Spending Money on Vitamins

If you’re one of the 77 percent of Americans taking dietary supplements, you may be spending quite a bit of money. Depending on the number of vitamins you take, the size of the bottle, and the dosage, you could be spending anywhere from $5-$30 per month on vitamins! The vitamins you take may be something you take for health benefits, or to treat a condition. Whatever the reason, don’t let it break the bank.

OTC vs. Prescriptions

If your doctor recommended a certain vitamin in order to improve your health, or treat a condition, you might have followed directions without giving it a second thought. Vitamins sold are readily available, they’re regulated, and have great consumer-based reviews, but the costs can add up. If your physician recommends a vitamin regimen, there is a reason—a condition or symptom to treat—but it can be treated with a prescription vitamin just as easily. Before spending money on OTC drugs, ask your doctor if he or she can prescribe your medication or vitamin.

In many cases, it is better to use the prescription version of a vitamin because they are designed for a specific treatment. Some prescriptions, such as prenatal vitamins, come in varying formulas for added benefit. Other prescription drugs are formulated to treat specific diseases such as renal failure, or other conditions associated with treatments like chemotherapy. Taking a supplement can benefit your overall health, but taking a specific prescription drug can treat your specific health concern.

Prior-Approvals

Insurance companies will not reimburse you for over the counter purchases, but may cover your vitamins if you have a prescription. Most insurance companies will require a pre-approval to cover prescription vitamins. This shouldn’t be a problem if your doctor prescribes the vitamin to treat a symptom or condition. They may require your physician to fill out a questionnaire, and still may only cover it if you have a qualifying diagnosis. If possible, do research before your appointment, and discover discounts and coupons for prescription vitamins so that you can discuss them with your doctor. Using discounts, you can save even more on your prescriptions.

Healthy Living

It is important to follow the advice of your trust medical professional. If your doctor has recommended a vitamin or supplement, you should understand the reason and expected outcome, as well as the importance. Don’t attempt to replace a vitamin with a home remedy. If your doctor recommends a vitamin D supplement, and you instead spend more time in the sunshine, you may end up with a health condition that will cost you more than you bargain for. If you cannot afford your vitamin, don’t risk an alternative. Talk to your doctor so you can see if insurance will cover it.

[1] https://www.statista.com/statistics/307237/otc-sales-in-theus/

[2] https://www.crnusa.org/newsroom/dietary-supplement-use-reaches-all-time-high

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