08/15/2009 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Dollars & Health: Cashing In On Generics

Andy Miller, formerly a health care reporter for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, has joined Walletpop as a watch dog for all things health care and saving you money. He will be picking apart the massive and crucial health care bill, pointing out the parts we absolutely cannot compromise. For his first article for Walletpop, he assures you that it's perfectly sensible to buy generic prescription drugs instead of fancier name brands, marketing psychology be damned!

Many consumers still perceive that a brand name is best. Generics -- copies of brand names whose patents have expired -- have the same active ingredients as the brands, same effectiveness, same dosage, same safety. They're approved and regulated by the same Food and Drug Administration. So you get the same bang for considerably fewer bucks.

During an office visit, let your physician know if you prefer generics when they take out their white pads. "A physician is very likely to pick a brand name because they have samples in their office, or because they just had a free lunch,'' says Dr. Edward Jardini, a Templeton, Calif., family doctor who wrote the book How to Save on Prescription Drugs.

Also, while you may be tempted by free drug samples, that option generally leads to a brand-name script, which ultimately could cost more.

You can catch all of Andy"s post here.