Finding the Best Price for Your Prescriptions

Pharmacies are in the business of making money. Did you know that earlier this month customers sued the drugstore chains of Walgreens and CVS over prices paid for generic drugs? “The lawsuit accuses the company of charging insured patients more for generic drugs than what people pay without coverage.” In addition, the drugstores fail to tell insured patients about the cheaper options. “CVS and Walgreens reject the claims and promise to fight the accusations.”

RESEARCH: What can we retirees on a fixed income do? For a start, we can go back to our research skills learned in freshman English. Start with the primary sources. Talk to both your doctor and your pharmacist. Take your list of covered drugs to your doctor’s visit. Your doctor deals with so many patients that he or she cannot possibly know what the different insurance companies pay for the drugs. Leigh Purvis, AARP drug pricing expert, advises that taking the list helps your doctor see alternatives in treating your condition.

The second primary source is your pharmacist. You usually get the best deal using your insurance for brand-name drugs; however, “most prescriptions” are “filled with generic drugs,” and the cash price for “those drugs may be cheaper than what a person would pay through insurance depending on your insurance.”  Inquire about the price prior to having the prescription filled. If your research reveals a lower price somewhere else, ask you pharmacist if he or she will match that price. Also, some pharmacists in some states can legally substitute a brand-name drug for a cheaper generic drug in order to charge you a higher price.

Discount Programs: Some drugstores offer discount programs. If you have an expensive copay, go to Blink Health.com, touted by Lester Holt on NBC Nightly News.  The website has telephone numbers available, but you can see how it works by viewing the Lester Holt video right on their website.  Brothers Matthew and Jeffrey Chaiken negotiate with the drug companies for one low price. You type in your drug, pay the charge, print out your receipt and take it to your pharmacist to be filled. A second option is to get their website’s free app. Fifty-seven thousand pharmacies are participating with Blink Health. Plenty of other website options exist for your research pleasure. Some of them offer lower prices only to those who have no insurance.   

More RESEARCH: You can compare prescription prices at websites like <GoodRx.com> and <WeRx.org> to find how drug prices without insurance will vary by store. You can get apps for these sites on your phone and compare while you are in the store. GoodRx.com was featured on Dr. Oz when he was doing an EpiPen episode. The website has a BBB rating of A+. WeRx.org works a little differently. You call your pharmacy and get the price of a certain prescription. Then you type that drug, price, and pharmacy’s zip code on the WeRx.org website. It immediately brings up other nearby pharmacies with their prices. Hence, you can find the cheapest drug in your neighborhood with this social movement website.  Researching these sites may reveal whether or not your favorite drugstore is pricey. Comparing online prices is tricky in that sometimes the cash price is offered without showing what a coupon or an insurance price might offer. 

POSSIBLE RISKS: Research can save you money, but you may incur some risks.  First, if you pay online with a credit card (cash), it will not help you reach your insurance plan’s annual deductible or out-of-pocket maximum, when the insurer will pick up more of the bill. Next, if you compare prices and go to different pharmacies, your pharmacist will not be able to monitor your medicines to make sure they are not conflicting or may cause bad reactions. The onus falls on you. If money is an issue, you need to do your research and locate the best prices for your prescription needs.

 (Blink Health. https://www.blinkhealth.com/?utm_source=bing&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=Brand_B_ 

      Core_E&utm_term=Blink%20Health&utm_content=Blink. Aug. 28, 2017.

(“The Price Is Right on Your Next Prescription.” AP rpt. in Amarillo Globe-News. Business. Aug. 27, 2017. B10.)

(WeRx.org. Same Neighborhood. Same Prescription. Lower Price. WeRx.org. Aug. 28, 2017.