Take Control of Your Prescription Drug Costs

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medical_billing_advocate-46What if a cure for a life-threatening disease was within your reach, as long as you could afford the hefty price tag? The famous political and consumer activist Ralph Nader referred to prescription drug costs as “pay-or-die drug prices” in a 2014 article. This might sound harsh to many, but when you think about it, on many levels, it’s absolutely true. A patient with type 1 diabetes must have their insulin shots so that their body can use or store the glucose from the foods they consume. A patient with uncontrolled high blood pressure needs their anti-hypertensive drug prescribed by their doctor. A patient with a history of blood clots or who has suffered a recent heart attack or stroke needs their prescription blood thinner. If these patients cannot afford their medications, their lives could be at risk. Patients with hepatitis C have been given new hope through the development of two new drugs that seem to cure the disease in most patients. However, with a cost of $1,000 – $1,350 per pill, Sovaldi and Harvoni are out of reach for many hepatitis C patients.

What do you do when you can’t afford the price of medications that you need?

Ask for Generics

When your doctor is writing out a prescription for a drug to treat your condition, discuss whether or not a generic equivalent exists and if so, if it would be just as beneficial. Brand name drugs and their generic equivalent contain the same active ingredients, strength, dosage forms and administration route, but they might have different inactive ingredients. According to the Federation of State Public Interest Research Groups, a 30-day supply of Lipitor – a commonly prescribed cholesterol drug – costs approximately $194. However, its generic equivalent costs approximately $16. Cipro, an antibiotic, costs approximately $52, but its generic equivalent costs approximately $7. However, please note that if you are being prescribed a drug that is fairly new, it’s very likely that a generic version does not yet exist. Patented drugs are usually given several years of exclusivity before a generic version can be manufactured.

Ask for Samples

It’s not unusual for drug representatives to leave samples of prescription drugs at doctor’s offices to entice them to prescribe that particular drug. Ask the doctor if there are any samples of the drug he or she is prescribing for you. It’s possible that the doctor will be willing to give you samples of the drug, especially if you communicate to him or her that paying for a medication could be financially difficult for you.

Shop Around

As with any service, procedure or supply in healthcare, be sure to shop around for the best price. Not all pharmacies charge the same amount for a prescription drug – and many times, the price varies significantly. A recent Consumer Reports survey targeted five commonly prescribed medications and some of the nation’s most well-known chain pharmacies, big-box stores, supermarket pharmacies and online retailers, as well as some smaller, independent pharmacies. The results were staggering. CVS charged $295 for a month’s supply of Actos – a diabetic medication. Costco charged $101 and Walmart charged $160. Online retailers charged approximately $140. Singulair, an asthma medication, cost $27 for a month’s supply at Costco, $57 at Walmart and $165 at CVS.

These simple steps are vital for helping you pay the least amount possible for your prescription medications. If you would like to be proactive in paying what’s fair and accurate on your other healthcare costs, contact Medical Billing Advocates of America at 855-203-7058 for more information on our valuable education tools and training programs or follow this link: https://billadvocates.com/educational-products/

 

 

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