This Day On The Street
Continue to site
ADVERTISEMENT
This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here

Surprise: Pay less for medicine by not using health insurance





You might be paying more for your prescriptions at the pharmacy if you use your health insurance than if you pay cash out of pocket.

How can that be?

Say your doctor prescribes a generic drug and, using your health plan, your copay for generics is $10 per 30-day supply. If you submit your purchase through your insurance, you will pay the $10. But many discount stores, pharmacy chains and supermarkets have deals for common generics that could cost less. Stores including Wal-Mart, Costco, K-mart and Target have programs that offer about 150 to 300 generic drugs at the discounted price of $4 per 30-day supply.

The retailers do this as a marketing ploy, explains Charles Coonrod, principal of Foundation Strategies in Katy, Texas. "They get you to come in for the drugs and expect you'll buy other things while you're there."

Thus, your generic-drug copays through your health plan can be higher than the price of the drug. Health plans often set an average price to cover the cost of most drugs in the tier, which means that some drugs could be sold for less.

Ultimately it depends on the drugs, your health insurance plan, and where you buy it, says Dr. David Belk, who has an internal medicine practice in the San Francisco Bay Area and maintains the website True Cost of Healthcare.

Generic drugs for common conditions

The generic drugs in many retailers' discount programs are prescribed for the most common chronic conditions including arthritis, heart disease, hypertension, diabetes and depression, Belk says. (The drug-discount programs aren't necessarily nationwide because some states have laws prohibiting retailers from pricing drugs below cost.)

If you're taking four pills a day, as many people do as they age, according to the AARP, you can save $6 per prescription. That's $72 a year per medication or $328 for four. You could save more if your copay is higher for generics, and some are.

1 of 4

Check Out Our Best Services for Investors

Action Alerts PLUS

Portfolio Manager Jim Cramer and Director of Research Jack Mohr reveal their investment tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
Quant Ratings

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
Stocks Under $10

David Peltier uncovers low dollar stocks with serious upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
14-Days Free
Only $9.95
14-Days Free
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!
SYM TRADE IT LAST %CHG

Markets

DOW 18,037.97 -42.17 -0.23%
S&P 500 2,108.92 -8.77 -0.41%
NASDAQ 5,060.2460 -31.8390 -0.63%

Partners Compare Online Brokers

Free Reports

Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs