August 13, 2022

4 Ways to Find Better Prescription Drug Prices

At the beginning of the year, I received a call from my local pharmacy. The lovely employee told me she was making a courtesy call as my prescriptions were very expensive. I thought she was referring to the fact that I hadn’t reached my franchise yet. But then she hit me in the head with the price: “Ma’am, two of your drugs are over $2,000!” »

I immediately jumped to the conclusion that something was wrong. The total of all my medications never exceeded $1,000, and I was now being asked to pay over five times that! The patient stayed on the phone with me while she double-checked all the usual issues – it was a brand name instead of a generic, it was not handled by the insurance company or the prescription required a new authorization.

Not this time. Everything went well, and it was my responsibility to pay an exuberant sum that would only get me through the next 30 days. I started to panic. We had no way to afford it, even though those tiny pills literally kept my body from spinning out of control faster than a downed fighter jet. How would I live?

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As if a bucket of cold water had been spilled over my head, I quickly snapped back to reality. I remembered that this was just a new challenge – just part of the difficult and chronic life I live. It was time to demonstrate my professional skills as a drug bargain hunter.

Here are the steps I am taking to reduce my drug costs:

1. Call the insurance company.

As I have private insurance through an employer, certain medications are eligible for an assistance program. But they don’t offer it unless I ask. I reduced one of my specialty drugs, Actemra (tocilizumab), from $2,000 to $5 a month just by asking.

2. Check discount cards with the manufacturer.

I found out that most of my medications offered discounts if I applied for a special card on their websites. All I have to do is fill out a short questionnaire about why I’m taking the drug. After answering a few yes or no questions, a magic card appears on my screen. I then call my pharmacy and tell them I want to add it to my file and use it on my prescription.

These types of cards have helped cover almost all of the costs associated with my Dexilant (dexlansoprazole) and CellCept (mycophenolate mofetil) prescriptions. But it is important to know that these discounts only work on brand name drugs. I have to remind the pharmacy to make sure they only carry brand name drugs. And on rare occasions, my doctor has to write a prescription specifically for the brand name.

Yes, it’s a frustrating problem, but it’s worth it because it saves us thousands of dollars every year.

3. Find a discount website.

Another magical resource is the GoodRx website, which has amazing coupons for most drugs. After entering the name of the prescription and the dosage, it generates a list of coupons to be used in different pharmacies. These can be printed out as old-fashioned coupons or saved to a smartphone. I usually capture mine on my phone and hold it up for the pharmacist to see.

In 2015, my insurance company policy did not cover sildenafil to control Raynaud’s phenomenon. That’s over $1,000 a month without a coupon, but only $30 with it.

Sometimes these coupons are for fewer pills than what is written on the prescription. For example, the coupon covers 60 pills, but I need 120. Fortunately, the remaining pills are also prorated against the discounted price. Knowledge is power !

4. Involve the doctor.

Having a rare disease can sometimes mean that the medications I take are not designed to treat my ailments. It means the insurance company can’t justify why I’m taking it, which is a common reason they deny coverage. But I learned that this just means the company needs more information from the doctor.

It’s rarely easy, but with perseverance, I manage to get my doctors to jump through the hoops that my insurance company requires of them. They fill out detailed forms, and like a magic wand, the prescription is on its way to my belly.

Be ready to start all over again.

Over the years, I’ve learned to rely on the price of my prescriptions fluctuating as frequently as the color of my hands on a cold day. Insurance coverage and pharmacy prices change. Coupons and discount cards expire without notice. That’s why I always make sure to refill my prescriptions before they run out.

I never know when I will have hurdles to overcome just to be able to pay for my life-saving medication. Being prepared gives me time to find what I call the bargains that keep me alive.


To note: Scleroderma News is strictly a disease news and information site. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosticWhere processing. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosticWhere processing. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking it because of anything you read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Scleroderma News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about scleroderma issues.


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