The other day I was going through my prescription receipts for the past year in order to get ready for my taxes. I began noticing, in very small print on the receipt, the retail cost of the drug. Since I used several different pharmacies throughout the year, I decided to do a price comparison. I take several maintenance medications, so I was particularly interested in the cost of those.
I compared prices at CVS, RiteAid, Target, Walmart, and Walgreens. What I found was that no pharmacy quoted the lowest price for all of the medications. For example, CVS was $80.00 cheaper than Target for one particular type of medication, dosage and strength but not for other types of medication. I was very interested in these retail price comparisons since with my insurance, I pay 15% of the retail cost. In many cases, it was a small difference, but it varied. The other interesting thing is that none of the pharmacies I compared quoted the same price for the same medication, dosage and strength. I would have never thought that the major chain pharmacies would charge such different prices for the same drugs.
I am definitely not an expert on prescription drug costs, but I am an educated consumer, and with all the healthcare reform pending, I feel obligated to be informed on how I can get the best possible price for my medication. Since we can’t clip coupons for our prescription medication, our only line of defense is to educate ourselves.
Here are a few suggestions for saving money on prescription drugs:
- When the doctor issues you a prescription that you aren’t familiar with, ask if it is an expensive drug. That way he may be able to prescribe a comparable drug that is more affordable. If you don’t have insurance, ask for samples.
- Many group insurance plans have a flat dollar amount for prescriptions and are priced on a tier basis. Every year these amounts keep going up. If your prescription insurance is a flat amount, price comparison probably won’t apply. However, many insurance plans base the co-payment on a percentage basis. If that is the case, then price comparison can benefit your bottom line.
- You are under no obligation to purchase a prescription that has been filled. If it costs more than you are willing to pay, tell that to the pharmacist. They may be able to call the doctor and see if there is another less expensive medication that can be substituted.
- It takes a little effort, but call the pharmacies in the area where you live, and ask for the retail price for the prescribed medication, including the strength and dosage.
- In recent years, the drug companies finally allowed numerous generic prescription medications to be priced at $4.00 for a 30 day supply. Some pharmacies offer a price of $9.00 for a 90 day supply that is dispensed. This has been an enormous benefit for consumers. If you have a Publix supermarket in your area, their pharmacies offer a number of antibiotics that are free of charge when you fill a prescription there.
- Check advertised flyers for incentives a pharmacy may have for a new or transferred prescription.
These are a few of my findings that you might find helpful. A little time and effort is worth it if it translates into big savings on your prescription medications. There is no price to be paid for good health and staying well. The younger you are when you are proactive about your health, the greater the rewards are as you age. We all know that, but have you made that your priority?
This is a guest post from my wonderful mother, Lynn Folgate. She’s a piano teacher, a baby boomer, and she currently lives in Simpsonville, South Carolina. She’s a big fan and supporter of Money Crashers and the information we teach. Her hobbies include quilting, playing the piano, and reading.
(photo credit: ep_jhu)