Because of the increasing cost of prescription medications, health insurance companies have begun offering plans that do not include a pharmacy copay (or include one for generic drugs only). On such plans, you will typically pay the price the pharmacy has negotiated with the insurance company.
Sometimes you will get a better price by leaving your insurance card at home and choosing to be a self-pay customer at the pharmacy.
Why You Should Shop Around for Prescription Drugs
Many people don’t realize that the cost of a particular prescription can vary widely, depending on the pharmacy. There is no set, standard price across the board.
To illustrate the point, I searched pharmacies in Greenville, South Carolina, to find the self-pay price of a common medication: Lipitor.
For this experiment, I searched for a 30 pill supply of 20mg Lipitor. I found prices ranging from $50 to $152! In some cases an available coupon brought the price to around $15 (likely lower than your insurance company’s prescription copay).
How to Find Prescription Drug Prices
We compare prices on most things we buy, but for some reason we tend not to do so when it comes to healthcare. Most people don’t know how much anything really costs, including a prescription drugs. In fact, and this is no knock on them, but most doctors won’t know what a drug should cost.
Yet it’s surprisingly simple to compare prices on medications. Obviously, you could call around to pharmacies in your area.
Or you could check out GoodRx.com.
It’s a really helpful service that could save you a lot of money on prescriptions. You can compare prices on medicines from pharmacies in your area and find coupons and discounts. We have no relationship with this company, but believe it’s a service that can benefit our clients.
GoodRx could be particularly useful to you if:
- You have a high deductible health plan with no copays (like an HSA qualified plan).
- You have a plan that only provides copays on generic drugs.
- You have a short-term health insurance plan.
- You take a non-generic drug (even if you have a copay).
- You choose to opt out of health insurance altogether.
If you’ve used this service, come back and leave us a comment to let us know how it’s working for you.