Insurance can really help to cut down on the cost of prescription medications.
For those who are uninsured keeping up with the cost of prescription medications can really dig into your pocketbook.
Local pharmacists agree, the best way to get the best price is to shop around for those drugs.
So, just how much could you save by shopping around? We investigated to find out.
For some Oklahomans, like Sam Perry, daily medications are a part of life. Sam is diabetic. It’s a diagnosis he’s lived with his entire life, one which requires daily medication.
Perry said, “There have definitely been times when I’m on the last vial and I’m not sure where the next one will come from, which is a little scary.”
For a while Perry lived without insurance, wondering from one month to the next if he would be able to afford his insulin and other medical necessities.
It’s a reality for many Oklahomans. It’s also what inspired pharmacist Rory Forinash.
Forinash, owner of Thunder Discount Drug in Norman, said, “I don’t accept insurance.”
Forinash has cut out insurance companies at his pharmacy. He say it helps to give customers a better price.
So where can you really get the best price?
We took the generic form of the 10 most commonly prescribed drugs as listed by Times Union and compared their prices to pharmacies around the metro and two online companies.
While we expected the prices to vary, what we found was, in some cases, quite shocking.
Take Prilosec, the generic Omeprazole, for instance. A one month supply is sold for a cash price of $179.99 at a local Walgreens.
The same drug is just $20.20 at Wilson Drug in Midwest City.
An online pharmacy sells the medication for just $16. But, the best deal is at Thunder Discount Drug, just $4 for the medication.
Phil Woodward, with the Oklahoma Pharmacists Association, said, “I always tell folks to shop around.”
Woodward says prices vary because of the cost of doing business.
He says research shows on average it costs a pharmacy $12 to fill a prescription.
Woodward said, “That $12, that’s not the drug product itself. That’s the cost of doing business.”
The building, the electricity, employee pay and even the bottles the pills come in all play a role in that cost.
Also included, the cost of working with insurance companies.
Forinash said, “Up to 50-percent of a pharmacist’s time at a normal pharmacy is spent dealing with insurance. When you take that out of the equation you are able to cut your costs and spend more time with patients.”
Looking overall at the savings from one pharmacy to the next, if you were to buy all ten of the drugs we price checked at
Walgreens or CVS you would pay more than $400 at each store.
At Wal-Mart the same medications would cost less than $170 total.
At Thunder Discount Drug a customer would only spend $59 total.
Just by shopping around you could save more than $350.
It’s a savings which could, in some cases, even benefit those with insurance.
Walgreens tells us they have special savings plans available to those without insurance which would help to save money on each prescription filled, reducing the cost.
All of the pharmacies used in this story, including Thunder Discount Drug, were chosen at random.
Prescription Costs List