I spoke with my pharmacist about a prescription refill and I was stunned that the only drug I fill at this pharmacy had doubled in price. Like most people, I had not paid a lot of attention to the cost of this medication since my copay was just $10 per month. I had noticed a year ago that the name of the prescription had changed, but I assumed that this was the generic version of my prior medication so I let it pass. Not until my quarterly cost rose to $60 did I take action to research what I was taking. Is this what it takes for some of us to pay attention to prescription costs?
Prescription drug issues are in the news more often now than ever before. Pharmaceutical companies are exercising their right to see what the market can bear. The result is that drug prices are changing at the wholesale level which means that our drugs are being moved into ever more expensive “tiers” in our insurance plans. What can we do since we are almost all locked into annual health insurance or drug plans?
First, let’s check with our physicians to be sure that we need to be taking all the drugs we have been prescribed. A periodic check of our prescriptions often leads to a very healthy conversation about why we take the drugs we do.
Second, we all need to check to see if there are cheaper alternatives to the prescriptions we are taking. Even if our specific prescription does not have a generic equivalent, another drug in the same classification might. The money many of us save can add up to a tidy sum when it is added up each month.
Third, many of us take drugs that are a “compound” of two or more drugs. If we can take the generic versions separately we can often save quite a bit of money as long as they produce the required effect. On more than one occasion we have determined that a drug that costs $20 or more per month is made up of one drug that is under $10 and another that has no cost. This is the situation in which I find myself.
Please do not take this set of suggestions as a reason to stop taking the prescriptions that we have been given. Physicians try to match up our conditions to the best known alternatives, but that does not mean we should not ask questions. Let’s not try to doctor ourselves as most of us are truly not trained to do that. Rather, let us become more educated consumers discussing the appropriateness of what has been prescribed and researching the most cost-efficient sources of these drugs.