I’ve been a fairly healthy individual my whole life, I think at most I’ve had a couple anti-biotic prescriptions and a pain killer prescription when I broke my leg when I was 15. Our youngest son has some acid reflex issues and our doctor gave us a prescription to help with it. Before this issue I didn’t know a lot about prescription drugs costs, but learning about it is fairly interesting.
Our doctor prescribed him a 3 month supply and called it in to Walgreens. When Mrs. C. called to check on it, she was told that the total would be over $600. Yikes. She called Meijer and they offered the same amount for around $150. One phone call saved us $450. That’s crazy.
GoodRx is a website that compares prescription costs in your area. I typed in our son’s prescription medicine and found the following results:
- Rite-Aide $648
- Walgreens $609
- Meijer $147
- Walmart $65
These were right around the numbers that the stores gave us, however on the side of the window it also put up that at Walgreens the prescription could be had for only $75 with payment of an annual fee. Had we known this when we filled the prescription paying the annual fee would have been worth it. Also we didn’t call Walmart, but knowing they have it cheaper than Meijer now is good to know.
GoodRx also has printable coupons for several medicines as well. They had one to take $10 off the total at Mejiers and even one to drop the total at Rite Aide to $274. My assumption is that these coupons will work just fine when taken to the pharmacy, although I have yet to try it.
Prescription Drug Card:
Our doctor also gave us a prescription benefit card, he hands them out to all his patients. It’s called the prescription relief card and anyone can get one for free by visiting their website. I always thought these things were gimmicky, but using this card saved us another $30 on our son’s prescription. Not bad.
An odd thing is that Walgreens has a membership card that costs only $35, with this card the prescription would have only been $75, but the card wasn’t offered to my wife when she called in on the prescription. I would think that if they have a card that offers such a large discount they would offer it when someone is trying to fill a costly prescription.
Our son isn’t at the point where he can take pills easily yet, so we have his prescription in a liquid. If he were to switch to pills a 3 month supply from Walmart would only cost $10. The same exact drug that costs $600 at Walgreens as a liquid costs only $10 by getting it in a different form at Walmart. It certainly pays to shop around. Here is a list of Walmart Prescription drug prices.
Meijer offers several antibiotics for free, as well as the generic equivalent of Lipitor, prenatal vitamins, and the diabetes medicine metformin. In addition to these programs Meijer also offers Pharmacy rewards with their Mperks program, essentially for every 5 non-free prescriptions filled you earn a $10 credit.
Prescription Drugs are an HSA eligible expense, so if you have an HSA you essentially can save your tax rate on prescription drugs. If you are in the 15% tax bracket with a 5% state sales tax, Using an HSA to pay for your prescriptions can save 20% on a prescription. People in a higher tax rate will save even more. Someone in the top tax bracket of 39.6% living in California with a top marginal rate of 12.3%, and who contributes to an HSA through an employer deduction, saving payroll taxes of 7.65%, will have a total deduction of 59.55% by using an HSA.
Where do you save money on prescription drugs? Have you noticed any major discrepancies in price between different pharmacies?