The cost of pharmaceuticals is a very hot topic today and for a good reason, they are expensive. Brand pharmaceuticals refer to newer products that are actively being promoted by the pharmaceutical companies and usually provide samples and co-pay cards to help with the cost. Generic pharmaceuticals are older to more recent products that have been used for years with success but might not be the best product on the market anymore.
When I refer to generics, as “might not be the best product on the market anymore” I don’t want you to feel that is a negative but it helps with the natural progression in healthcare today. Think of it this way, if you were going to hang a picture on the wall, would you use a regular hammer or a 20-pound sledgehammer? You don’t always need or want the strongest product available. Certain products react differently in human bodies and sometimes a product that has been working stops being effective. When product A becomes ineffective that is when the patient should be switched to product B that might be going from an older generic to a newer brand medication or just from one generic to another.
There are several types of insurance plans that will affect the amount you will pay “out of pocket” but be aware they may be more expensive on an annual basis so have an idea of your needs when you decide on your insurance plan and premiums.
The most popular plans have a 3-tier co-pay system where tier-1 will be the less expensive generics, tier-2 will be the preferred brand medication, and tier-3 will be a non-preferred brand medication. The tier-2 preferred brand medication is usually in that “preferred” status because the insurance company and the pharmaceutical company have worked out a financial arrangement beneficial to both parties causing patients on the tier-3 “non-preferred” medication to pay more out of pocket if they really want that over the “preferred” brand.
Another popular insurance plan pharmacy benefit is where the patient will pay a portion of the cost of the medication. If the plan is setup for the patient to pay 20% of the cost of the medication out of pocket then for a prescription that would cost $200 the patient would pay $40. In this scenario the patient will benefit by calling their local pharmacies to get a price for their medicine. You will find that prices vary depending on the pharmacy with Costco and Wal-Mart usually being the least expensive.
A little work on your part can save you money on your prescriptions. Look at your plan to see where your current medications are tiered, check product websites to see if co-pay cards are available, and call pharmacies to try and get a better price.