Do I really have to pay $100+ for my prescription skincare medication? (hint: NO)
Drug prices, even for generic medications, have sky-rocketed over the last several decades, and sometimes we can feel like prices are completely out of our control. It seems we’re stuck paying $100 for even basic prescription skincare medications. Or are we? Read on.
I am a big proponent of providing realistic, affordable care for my patients. And most Medical Providers I know feel the same way. It seems as though insurance and drug companies have started increasingly passing on more and more of the cost of medications to patients, sometimes resulting in outrageous charges for basic drugs that used to cost a fraction of the current price. As Providers, though we do not share as much of the financial burden as our patients, we most certainly share the frustration of high drug prices. It limits the effective options that we can realistically use for our patients, and therefore, inhibits our ability to treat even simple skin conditions.
The good news is that there are various options to help lower the cost of prescription medications.
Tips to Lower the Cost of Your Prescription Medications
Tip 1: Learn to decipher your insurance.
Understand your prescription medication deductible (the amount of out-of-pocket costs you are subject to before insurance kicks in anything), and your out-of-pocket maximum amount (the amount of money after which your insurance will cover 100% of your eligible medical costs). If you can’t log into your insurance company’s website and find these numbers, give them a call. They can usually help you locate this valuable information. This will help you understand how much of your medication cost your insurance is going to cover.
Tip 2: Be familiar with your insurance company’s formulary.
Bookmark your insurance plan’s formulary (the drugs that are covered, and different tiers, or levels of coverage for different medications, as well as prior authorization requirements) on your web browser. This may take a quick google search but will be valuable information to have. Medical practices do not typically have ready access to the information for all their patients’ various insurance plans and these plans can vary quite a bit. If a medication is not covered by your insurance, a quick glance at the formulary can inform you on which medications may be a covered alternative.
Sometimes, though not always, electronic medical record platforms have information about whether a certain medication is covered by a specific insurance plan and the potential out-of-pocket cost to the patient at their pharmacy. Be sure to ask about this when discussing medications with your Provider.
Tip 3: Shop around and you can save a surprising amount of dough.
It’s not as widely known as it should be, but prices at different commercial pharmacies vary A LOT. Some medications that cost $150 at, say, Pharmacy X, may cost $60 at your local Pharmacy Y, Pharmacy Z or even your local grocery store’s pharmacy.
Tip 4: Use a prescription medication coupon service.
Sometimes companies partner with third-parties to negotiate the cost of prescription drugs on a large-scale, which can often mean better prices for those who need the medication. There are various options for these types of savings programs available to consumers. One in particular that has worked for patients in the Boise area is GoodRx. You can download the app or visit their website to learn more. Once on the platform, users can search local pharmacies to find the lowest possible price at nearby locations. Additionally, users can print off coupons or download them onto their phone to show the pharmacist. Using these coupons can sometimes save you up to 80% off of drug prices.
Don’t be afraid to communicate with your Provider about the cost of your medication. I tell every patient that I prescribe a medication for to give me a call if their cost is more than $40-50, because there is almost always a better price or an alternative medication that will work just as well.
Happy saving everyone!