Drug prices have increased dramatically over the past decade. But only 17 percent of consumers shop around for drugs to see if they can get better deal.
If you have insurance and a standard insurance co-pay, it may not occur to you to comparison-shop for medications. But sometimes the price you pay out of pocket for drugs without using your insurance is less than your co-pay.
How Can The Same Medication Have Different Prices?
First, the prices pharmacies charge for the same drug may vary widely. According to a Consumer Reports study, medications could cost ten times as much at one retailer versus another in the same geographic area.
Here’s a real-world example using OneRx, the digital prescription savings solution: In April 2016, Amoxicillin (the generic antibiotic) would cost you $3.85 at Walmart and Sam’s Club while your co-pay would cost you $11 in the same city.
Many big-box stores offer generic medications for as low as $4 for a 30-day supply and $10 for a 90-day supply. Sam’s Club sometimes fills prescriptions for free. However, there may be a fee to sign up and not all discounts are open to Medicare, Medicaid and Tricare recipients.
Second, many insurance plans have pharmacy deductibles where consumers are responsible for paying a large portion, or even the entire cost of their prescription drugs until they reach their deductible (or the amount you pay for health care services before your health insurance begins to pay). At that point, insurance would kick in and cover their drug costs.
But 70% of people never reach their deductible. This means that in a given year, they would be responsible for most or all of their medication costs. As a result, it may pay to shop around.
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