4 Ways to Lower Drug Costs

1. Are you sick of huge drug price increases? So are we.

Solution: There are cheap generic drugs, but the FDA must approve them faster. More competition means lower prices. The FDA can do this without compromising safety.

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2. Do you have allergies or heartburn?

If you do, you likely once took a prescription drug that is now available over the counter. This means you are paying for it, not your insurance company.

Solution: Allow more prescription medicines to be available over the counter (OTC) and make insurance companies pay for it or allow patients to use their health savings accounts when applicable.

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3. Why can’t you comparison shop for your drugs?

Because insurance companies don’t want you to. The pharmacy down the street may sell your drug at a cheaper price, or, it might even be cheaper without using your insurance. (Did your head just explode?)

Solution: Promote websites that allow patients to do comparison shopping and mandate that pharmacists should disclose to you whether they can sell your drug at a cheaper price. Your insurance company and your drug store must tell you what your drug will cost at different drug stores with and without your insurance copay or deductible. Also, force your insurance company to compete for your business by allowing you to pick up your medicines at your local pharmacy or by mail-order.

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4. Your insurance company regularly overcharges you for drugs.

Here’s how it works: Insurance companies get money back from drug companies based on how many drugs are sold. A drug you paid $100 for today might only cost the insurance company $75 dollars tomorrow. What could you do with $25?  

Solution: You need to get this money back when the insurance company does. Mandate that patient coinsurance or deductible is based on the heavily discounted price insurance companies pay for the drugs. You should benefit when a lower price is negotiated.

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This is all very complicated.

Yes, and there’s a reason – to protect the profits of the companies creating the rules – insurance companies.

But why aren’t drug companies to blame? Drug companies sometimes are to blame for high drug prices. Companies like Valaent and Martin Shkreli may be the worst. Large, well-known drug companies publish list prices which you hear about in the press. However, this is not the price insurance companies pay. In addition, you likely have access to a copay card which further reduces your cost.

For patients like us, the price of a drug is really the price of your deductible and copay, not the actual price of the drug – this is why you have insurance. However, the price you pay may be more than the insurance company paid for your drug. We wish there were more emphasis in the media and from Congress about the role insurance companies play in the high cost of drugs.

Remember, your deductible and copay determines the price of your drug. We pay insurance companies to insure us and provide a safety net that theoretically keeps us from bankruptcy when we get sick. Unfortunately because of insurance company greed the safety net might wind up strangling us.

With the country focused on lowering healthcare costs, we should look in the right places for savings.

Now is the time to create our own momentum!

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