Are You Paying Too Much for Prescription Drugs?

Thank you Pixaby for the image.

If you live in the United States, I’m sure you are aware of the high cost of medical care in this country. Although not all of us will need to see a doctor or go to the hospital this year, many – especially those of us who are older – regularly take one or more prescription drugs. For those with chronic illnesses, the cost of these medications can be quite high. Tragically, some people on limited incomes have found themselves having to choose between paying for their medications, paying rent, or buying food.

One of the major reasons for high prescription drug prices is the lack of price transparency. As consumers, we are at the end of a bloated, complicated, and opaque supply chain. Even when drug prices are reduced, the original price before the discount is often set artificially high.

Enter Mark Cuban and his new company CostPlus Drugs. Cuban, entrepreneur billionaire and owner of the Houston Mavericks, decided to approach the high cost of drugs as a business problem with a straightforward solution: total price transparency. His website, costplusdrugs.com, which debuted this January, has over 700 generic drugs listed, with more, including branded drugs, to come.

The pricing is as follows: cost of drug + 15% + $3 pharmacy fee + $5 shipping. It’s really that simple.  

I am lucky to have good health insurance with manageable deductibles. I take two generic medications daily and, although I have never struggled to pay for these prescriptions, I was curious to see if I’d save anything by ordering them through CostPlus Drug Co.   

I had recently ordered a 90-day supply of both medications from my usual online pharmacy and was billed $36.81, which included free shipping. If I had used CostPlus Drug Co., my cost would have been $25.90 (this includes $10 shipping, $5 for each drug).

Although these aren’t life-altering savings, if I didn’t have insurance or my insurance wasn’t as robust, the savings would have been greater. If you or a loved one take prescription medications – either regularly or for a temporary condition – you might want to check it out. The website is very user-friendly and full of information.

I realize that CostPlus Drugs isn’t the only company trying to bring down the high cost of drugs, but I like its ease of use and transparent pricing. And, because I support its mission, I will order my prescription drugs through them from now on.

Whatever you are paying, it makes sense to shop around first. And, if you like what you see, spread the word. If more people take control of the cost of their medications, Big Pharma might take notice.

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GratiTuesday: Healthcare and the Affordable Care Act

33 years ago today (for some reason I remember it was on Flag Day) what started out as a routine trip to my doctor for a simple, yearly check-up became day one of a medical journey. During the exam, my doctor discovered a lump in my neck – one that I hadn’t even noticed – and recommended very urgently that I have it checked out by a specialist.

Without going into a lot of detail, a battery of tests resulted in the diagnoses of cancer. My world, as I knew it, suddenly tilted and for the next year my and my family’s focus was on my treatments, tests, and getting healthy again.

I am very lucky that my disease was caught early and that my particular type is – and was at that time – no longer considered an automatic death sentence. After going through multiple chemotherapy and radiation treatments, I got through the ordeal and eventually regained my hair, weight, and my health.

aca-logoThe one thing I learned I would not regain is the ability to get health insurance from any other source other than a traditional employer. I now had what insurance companies considered a “pre-existing condition.”  I could never freelance or start my own business. I could never change jobs without having a new position waiting for me with minimal interruption. If there was a probationary period in a new job when I wouldn’t have coverage, I held my breath and didn’t let it out until the wait was over.

I am just one of millions of people in the U.S. who were, before the passage of the Affordable Care Act, considered uninsurable on our own. If we didn’t get coverage from our – or our spouse’s – employer, we had to go without health insurance. It could be a frightening and sometimes financially devastating place to be.

I will be forever grateful that I had traditional medical insurance coverage when I became sick and so very grateful to all of the doctors and healthcare professionals who took care of me. Today, I am especially grateful that the Affordable Care Act has allowed so many people get coverage that would have been out of luck before. The Affordable Care Act isn’t perfect by any means but it’s the best we have right now.