When you take out health insurance you assume that it will save you money. In most respects it does, especially if serious illness prevails or there are numerous trips to the emergency room. However, when it comes to medication the truth is it might not save you any money. If you don’t use your health insurance to pay for your medications you might find that you can pay less. We’re not talking about using your own pocket to stomach the cost of buying prescription medication online; we’re talking about buying locally.
How can this be? Well, it’s all down to generic drugs and in-store discounts.
A recent article in DailyFinance.com highlighted this issue. If your Doctor has prescribed you a generic version of a drug the first thing you need to do is RESEARCH. It could be that your copay will work out more than what your local pharmacy will charge you without insurance. Call around a few pharmacies and ask them how much your medications will cost you via your insurance plan and then find out what they charge without insurance.
How can this be? Many pharmacies, especially pharmacy chains and those connected to supermarkets, have special deals on 100’s of common generic drugs that allow you to buy at cheaper prices. These prices are often loss-leading for the pharmacy but they know that while you’re there you’ll often pick up other essentials at the same time, which means you’re actually spending more money with them.
How do insurance companies determine what you pay? Most generics are placed into tiers’. The price of each tier is worked out according to the cost of drugs inside it, so the price covers the majority of drugs being sold within that tier. This means you might pay more for a cheaper generic but less for a more expensive one. In other words, the price of generic drugs is not drug specific; it goes according to tiers’. Pharmacies, on the other hand, can determine drug prices according to each individual drug.
What’s the catch with paying for drugs out of your own pocket? Pharmacy discount prices vary from state to state depending on the laws. Some states don’t allow pharmacies to discount on specific medications. Also, your local pharmacy might not be thrilled to sell you medication without insurance. They get more when you buy through your insurance than if you buy without. Your insurance also prefers that you buy your medication through it as well. No one can force you to pay for medication through your health insurance though; it’s entirely your decision.
If you want to explore the option of buying generics out of your own pocket then you’ll need to explicitly tell the pharmacist that you want to pay without insurance, or tell them you don’t have insurance. As mentioned above, another option is to ask them to compare the copay charge against their discount prices so you can work out what’s cheapest for you. They won’t do this automatically; you need to ask for the comparison.
What about branded drugs? The same rule applies to branded drugs. If you buy online from places like IsraelPharm.com or use a pharmacy discount card like the “Easy Drug Card” (that can be used at 1000’s of pharmacies nationwide) then you can often get reduced prices of up to 70-75% on branded drugs.
These discount pharmacy prices are normally on common generics, like those used to treat heart conditions, arthritis, depression and diabetes. As you get older, most people end up taking numerous medications so you could be taking medication for multiple illnesses. Any savings you can make on prescriptions costs goes a long way. So…. Take the time to do your research and spend your savings on something fun instead.