Are pharmacies costing you too much money?

Posted by idawrites on November 11, 2008 in Health, Prescription |

It’s been a long time since I read a finance article on Yahoo! Finance. Mostly because the blogs that I subscribe to go much further in depth and apply more to my interests than the homogenized articles that get put on the mainstream websites’ Finance sections.

Today I gave it a look and read Budget-Trimming Tips for a Down Economy by Laura Rawley, on her Money & Happiness column. While her tips are clearly for people who are just starting out on the journey to cutting their expenses, I pulled one good nugget from there.

Laura’s tip begins: “2. Prescriptions: Only about one-third of prescription drug purchases are mostly or fully covered by insurance, according to a recent Consumer Reports survey, and prices can vary by as much as $100 for the same drug. Always ask your physician for a generic equivalent, which can cost up to 40 percent less, then shop around.”

I can honestly say that I’ve never comparison shopped for prescriptions. A co-pay is a co-pay right? Does it make any difference? I still can’t find the answer to that question from searching the ‘net (YET) but I did find a bunch of interesting articles on the topic of uninsured customers and medications.

Freakonomics wrote an article on the variances of drug pricing. In it, he says: “…So Wolf began snooping around and found that two chains, Costco and Sam’s Club, sold generics at prices far, far below the other chains. Even once you factor in the cost of buying a membership at Costco and Sam’s Club, the price differences were astounding. Here are the prices he found at Houston stores for 90 tablets of generic Prozac:

  • Walgreens: $117
  • Eckerd: $115
  • CVS: $115
  • Sam’s Club: $15
  • Costco: $12

Those aren’t typos. Walgreens charges $117 for a bottle of the same pills for which Costco charges $12.”
If I wasn’t paying straight co-pays, I’d absolutely be getting my prescriptions filled during my Costo runs! Have you shopped around for prescription prices?

I suspect that this is the way the pharmacies can afford to pay you $25 and $30 in gift cards to switch your prescriptions from one pharmacy to the other!

1 Comment

  • Heather Randall says:

    Clark Howard has apparently discussed this before. When I needed an expensive antibiotic and had no insurance, I saved over $100 getting it filled at Sam’s. A bit of information people may NOT know – you do not have to have a membership at Sam’s or Costco to use their pharmacy.

    Also, important information for the frugally motivated. Several pharmacies, including CVS and Publix, have a minimum price of around $10-$11 to fill a prescription regardless of the actual cost of the medication for anyone WITHOUT insurance. They do not inform their customers of this practice unless you ask, either. Kroger and Wal-Mart do not subscribe to this practice.

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