Buying Prescriptions at Costco – How Much Can You REALLY Save?

Posted by idawrites on April 7, 2011 in Frugal Tips, Health, Prescription, Spending |

I’ve written a lot about my love affair with Publix. Their stores and sales matched with my coupons make me feel like a conqueror every time I hit the checkout line. Since we’re there at least once a week anyway, when it came to prescriptions we’ve just always gone to Publix.

I mean… I’ve been telling people for years to go to Costco for their prescriptions and reminding them that they don’t have to be a member to use the pharmacy. But actually go there myself? Why would I? I have insurance and the copay is the copay no matter where you go… right? NOPE!

A couple of months ago, I had to figure out how to squeeze another expensive, ongoing prescription copay into the budget (above the $100 in copays we already shell out per month). So, I gathered up everything and did a side-by-side comparison of our current copays to the Costco pharmacy price list. I was stunned at how much less our prescriptions would cost if we just picked them up at Costco when we do our normal monthly milk/eggs/cheese/dog food run. Not only would our out of pocket amount go down for Mark’s prescriptions, but we would now pay $35 LESS for all of the prescriptions (including the new expensive one that we were trying to budget around).

To share with you the prescription price comparisons, I pulled the list of America’s Most Popular Drugs from Forbes and compared the United Healthcare standard copay list with the Costco list price.

Medication – 1 Month

(Standard Dosage)

Prescribed For

UHC Copay

Costco Regular Price

Hydrocodone Apap Pain Reliever

$ 10.00

$ 13.87

Simvastatin High Cholesterol

$ 10.00

$ 5.90

Lisinopril High Blood Pressure

$ 10.00

$ 7.41

Levothyroxine sodium Thyroid Issues

$ 10.00

$ 9.33

Azithromycin Antibiotics

$ 10.00

$ 9.63

Metformin Diabetes

$ 10.00

$ 6.30

Lipitor High Cholesterol

$ 35.00

$ 110.18

Amlodipine High Blood Pressure

$ 10.00

$ 50.52

Amoxicillin Antibiotics

$ 10.00

$ 5.90

Hydrochlorothiazide High Blood Pressure

$ 10.00

$ 5.90

Omeprazole Heart Burn

Not Covered

$ 166.59

Alprazolam Anxiety

$ 10.00

$ 9.43

Furosemide High Blood Pressure

$ 10.00

$ 8.52

Metoprolol tartrate High Blood Pressure

$ 10.00

$ 5.90

Atenolol High Blood Pressure

$ 10.00

$ 6.50

As you can see, in the chart above, the list price from Costco is almost always less. If you don’t have insurance, you’re going to save a ridiculous amount of money on necessary prescriptions. If you have insurance, you’ll pay whatever the cheapest price is between the standard list price and your copay. At standard pharmacies and grocery store pharmacies, the prices are almost always higher and fluctuate wildly between locations.

Basically, whether you have insurance or not, moving your prescriptions to your local warehouse club is probably going to save you money on prescriptions. In some cases… a LOT of money.


  • Momma says:

    I forgot to mention… just because it’s not on the price list doesn’t mean they don’t have it! They can get any prescription available to any pharmacy.

  • Lizzy says:

    I’ve always loved Target for prescriptions. My generics are $4 or $5 and the non-generics have always been really inexpensive too. We also have a Target card which we use and for every 10 prescriptions you fill you get a 10% off coupon to use for anything at Target.

  • Momma says:

    I don’t shop at Target. So, since it’s out of my way, not in a direction I normally drive, and more expensive on the day to day things I normally buy, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me to go there.

    If you’re a normal Target shopper that’s pretty awesome.

  • Lizzy says:

    We mostly get the kids clothes there AND it’s right next to the Home Depot and Lowes (guess how often we are there!!)

  • Momma says:

    LOL! Oh I know how often you’re there. 😉

    I get the girls’ clothes at Plato’s Closet and Burlington Coat Factory, and do my best not to go into home improvement stores… they are a weakness.

  • Momma says:

    I just checked the $4.00 generic list. Here are the ones from the list above that fall into the Target $4.00 generic program 🙂

    Levothyroxine sodium

  • Robyn says:

    I save over 80% on scripts at Costco. When I lost my insurance, I had to go looking. I had always used Walgreens. Never again. I was torn at being excited at the great pricesat Costco & being more than a little ticked off at Walgreens.
    One I had to pick up last week was $26 at Walgreens & $6 at Costco.

  • Heather says:

    I’ve been without health insurance for a year now, and I highly recommend Target for prescriptions! They actually have an in house discount program for people without insurance that lowers the price of my medications well below the warehouse clubs. These aren’t “list” prices… You have to specifically tell them you have no insurance.
    I have had great luck with the warehouse clubs for expensive antibiotics in the past, too!

  • Momma says:

    Actually, the Warehouse Clubs (at least Costco) have a similar program for people without insurance. I don’t know how much the price difference is, but they’ve got brochures advertising it in the pharmacy section.

    I’m all about saving money wherever I can, so I’m thrilled to know that people have more options! Target is a great option for people who aren’t near a warehouse club or whose medications are cheaper than the warehouse clubs offer.

    Thanks for all the comments y’all! Keep sharing the deals wherever you find them.

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