Saturday, August 12, 2017

Life with Chronic Conditions: Shop Around for the Best Pharmaceutical Prices

Two new studies have recently shown that:
a) Uninsured patients or those with limited prescription drug coverage can save significant money by buying their drugs at independent pharmacies instead of big box, grocery or chain drug stores and by using discount coupons. The cash price for a commonly prescribed generic antibiotic can vary, on average $52, within a single ZIP code, according to the study published recently in the American Journal of Managed Care. Note this study was done in California

b) A separate study in the journal Health Affairs confirmed that health care price shopping is uncommon

Interestingly Consumer Reports also came out with a study that looked at pricing nationally and found that prescription drug prices can vary widely from retailer to retailer. They recommend
• Costco as they consistently had the lowest retail prices for the drugs they were checking. You don’t need to be a member to use its pharmacy, though joining can gain you more discounts.

• Support independent pharmacies

• Don’t always use your health insurance as many chain and big box stores offer hundreds of common generics at prices as low as $4 for a 30 day supply and $10 for a 90 day supply for people who pay out of pocket.

• 90-day prescription can be cheaper than 30 day.

• Look online. Only use an online retailer that clearly operates within the US and displays the “VIPPS” symbol. 

• Avoid Canadian sites as they are often fake storefronts selling low quality or counterfeit products.

• Talk to your provider about costs and ask for generics

What you can do:
• Go to one of the online sites to do price comparisons and take advantage of coupons. Below is just a sampling of what’s on-line.
- Discount Drug Network This site allows you to shop by location. Checking this site, I found that the cheapest option was actually WalMart and the private pharmacies were much more expensive in my area.

• Contact your condition specific association (e.g. American Diabetes Association) as well as talk to your medical provider about cheaper alternative medications as well as coupons or other means they may be aware of to lower costs. Medical providers may have samples.

• Many manufacturers offer drugs at no cost or significantly reduced cost for those who qualify financially. Check Pharmaceutical Assistance Program 

• Check to see if your state has a States pharmaceutical assistance programs (SPAP).  Each program works  differently. Some states offer programs that can help people with certain illnesses pay for their prescription drugs. For example, many states offer HIV/AIDS drug assistance programs (ADAP) and programs for people who suffer from End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD).

• If you qualify for Medicare, check out Save on Drug Costs

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