Avoid Surprise Costs on Generic Drugs

26 Jun

Most people do not realize that the same generic drug is not the same price at every pharmacy. Why? Every pharmacy negotiates its own prices with the supplier; so what may cost $5 at one pharmacy, may be $30 at another.

Prices can even differ greatly between different dosages of the same drug at the same pharmacy. It is not unheard of for the doctor to cut your dosage in half, yet your bill is now double! Why? Because pharmacies can get a better price on a more popular dosage since it is a volume discount.

If your insurance offers free generic drugs, especially if you are on Medicare, you don’t have to worry about it, right? Wrong! A pharmacy may charge a cash customer $5 for a specific drug, while it charges and insurance company $50. For your “free” medication, you just got marched toward the “donut hole” 10x faster than if you would have just paid the five bucks! With careful planning, you may be able to reduce or avoid the “donut hole” altogether (but I’ll save that for another post).

So, what do you do about it? Negotiate! With any negotiation, remember the 3Ps: Pleasant, Patient & Prepared. You are not entitled to a discount, so you want to make it easy for them to accommodate you.


  1. Call around and check the internet for the CASH price of your prescription of LOCAL pharmacies.
  2. Ask if the price is different for a different dosage.
  3. Gather needed data: Drug name, dosage and quantity. Competing pharmacy’s name, address, phone number, price quote you got over the phone or print out of price on their website


  1. Present your evidence to the pharmacist and ask if they are willing to “price match”  the CASH PRICE to the competing pharmacy.
  2. If not, inform (don’t threaten) that you would like to keep them, but may need to change due to financial limitations. If that doesn’t work, transfer your prescription to the new pharmacy. Many pharmacies offer a bonus for switching.
  3. If the dosage is the problem, ask if they will price match to the other dosage or ask your doctor to rewrite the prescription for the new dosage with different instructions, such as cutting the pill in half or taking 2 pills instead of one.

Always get the 90 day supply, since it is almost always cheaper. Take advantage of store reward programs whenever possible.

My favorite? Giant Eagle Pharmacy! They always price match (I usually use Costco as my example) and I get store rewards toward grocery and gasoline discounts!

One Response to “Avoid Surprise Costs on Generic Drugs”

  1. clancy119 June 26, 2012 at 10:51 pm #

    Reblogged this on Negative can = Postive and commented:
    This blog I thought mention some very important information regarding generic drugs.

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