Twenty years ago, shopping for prescription medications to find the lowest price was unheard of. Many pharmacies ordered their products from the same wholesalers, and the costs at the pick up counter were very similar if not the same at different pharmacies. Copays were often standardized among pharmacies, and were not calculated based on drug costs. Rather, copays were set amounts based on the tier of the medication in the insurance company’s formulary, and were often nominal fees to the patient.
Nowadays, drug pricing is a major contributing factor to determining a patient’s copayment to obtain their medications. Many insurance companies use the drug cost to calculate the copayment a patient must pay in order to obtain their medication, often a percentage of the out of pocket price. Since drug prices vary between pharmacies, due to different wholesalers used and contract pricing for specific products, the copayments and out of pocket prices can vary greatly from pharmacy to pharmacy.
Shopping around to find the lowest drug prices is now becoming the norm. Since prices vary between pharmacies, copayments and amounts applied toward deductibles and donut holes can vary greatly from pharmacy to pharmacy. Insurance limits are often met based on total medication costs, not just the copayment that patients must pay out of pocket at the pharmacy to obtain their medications. It is therefore up to the consumer to seek out pharmacies that offer the lowest prices for the drug products they take on a regular basis, to ensure they are getting the most out of their insurance plan and drug payments.
There are many reasons why drug prices may vary between pharmacies. Pharmacies can have differing prices for a single product due to contract pricing with wholesalers or drug manufacturers. Pharmacies that buy a certain medication in bulk can often get a contract to buy that medication for a lower price than pharmacies that only buy the product in limited quantities. This wholesale pricing can then be reflected in the charges paid by the consumer, with pharmacies that have contract pricing available offering lower prices than pharmacies without contract pricing. Pharmacies in wholesale stores often have lower drug costs than independent pharmacies for this very reason, because it is cheaper to buy in bulk.
Some insurance plans also restrict the pharmacies that cover medications for their members, or have higher costs to the consumer if medications are filled at an out-of-network pharmacy over an in-network pharmacy. This is a simple way for insurance companies to control their own costs, as it is easier for them to negotiate prices with their preferred pharmacies. Consumers must be aware of which pharmacies are in their insurance company’s network and be sure to shop for their medications only at in-network pharmacies in order to restrict the growth of their medication costs.
Shopping for Prescription Medications
When shopping for low cost prescription medications, consumers should be sure to use all available resources to find the lowest price for their medication. Using the Prescription Discount Card from Discount Drug Network can help reign in medication costs that are initially unaffordable. The Prescription Discount Card can be used in place of insurance, and is accepted at over 65,000 pharmacies nationwide.
The Discount Drug Network also offers an easy to use Drug Pricing tool on their website for consumers to use to check the prices of their medications. By using the simple Drug Pricing tool, consumers can figure out what their costs will be when using the Prescription Discount Card for a specific product at any pharmacy the card is accepted at, before they even go to the store. This allows consumers to compare the discounted price between pharmacies and to their insurance copays in order to figure out the lowest price available to them, without even leaving the comfort of their own home.
The Prescription Discount Card is free for everyone, and can be used if the consumer does not have insurance, or if their insurance company does not cover their medication. It can also be used in place of insurance if the insurance charge is higher than the discounted price. Discounts from 10-85% are available, depending on the medication strength and quantity needed as well as the pharmacy it is filled at. Consumers can request their individual Prescription Discount Card online and have a hard copy of the card mailed to their home to keep it in their wallet as well. This will allow them to decrease their drug costs on the go the next time a prescription medication is needed.