Americans Pay Up to 10 Times Too Much for Medications

Photo (cc) by somegeekintn

Just 17 percent of people comparison shop for their prescriptions to find better deals, a new survey shows.

That means 83 percent are potentially paying hundreds of dollars more than necessary each time they fill a prescription, according to Consumer Reports.

The nonprofit found that medications can cost as much as 10 times more at one retailer compared with the cost at another.

Lisa Gill, prescription drug editor at Consumer Reports, tells “CBS This Morning”:

“(We) discovered enormous price variations around the country, but also within the same zip code. Most people would not think, ‘Hey, I’m going to pick up the phone and call around,’ but you can save a bundle of money if you do.”

For its survey, Consumer Reports had secret shoppers call the pharmacies of more than 200 stores in six metros across the country to price five common generic prescription drugs. Their findings included:

  • In Raleigh, North Carolina, the price for one month’s supply of generic Cymbalta, an antidepressant that’s also used to treat pain, ranged from $43 (at Costco) to $249 (Walgreens).
  • In Dallas, the price for generic Plavix, a blood thinner, ranged from $23 (independent Preston Village Pharmacy) to $150 (CVS).
  • In Denver, the price for generic Actos, for Type 2 diabetes, ranged from $15 (Cherry Creek Pharmacy) to $330 (grocery store Albertson’s Save-On).

Overall, the retailers with the lowest prices were:

  • HealthWarehouse.com
  • Costco
  • Independent pharmacies

Those with the highest prices were:

  • Walgreens
  • Rite Aid
  • CVS

Medication prices vary more for consumers who are paying out of pocket rather than with insurance. Consumer Reports found, however, that even consumers paying a flat insurance copay can sometimes save money by shopping around:

Sometimes the price you’d pay out of pocket (what those without insurance are charged) might be less than your copay — a fact pharmacists may neglect to mention. Case in point: Metformin — used to treat type 2 diabetes — sells for just $4 for a month’s supply, or $10 for a three-month supply, at stores such as Target and Walmart, while a copay for a month’s worth averages about $11.

To learn more, check out “10 Ways to Get Your Medications for Less.”

Do you comparison shop for your medications? Let us know what you’ve learned by doing so below or in our Forums. It’s a place where you can swap questions and answers on money-related matters, life hacks and ingenious ways to save.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
5 Ways to Put an End to Junk Mail
5 Ways to Put an End to Junk Mail

Here’s how to keep unwanted mail from clogging your mailbox and trash can.

10 Bad Money Habits That Are Robbing You Blind
10 Bad Money Habits That Are Robbing You Blind

Here’s how to change those bad behaviors.

Why Cutting the Cord Can Be Confusing — and How to Decide If It’s for You
Why Cutting the Cord Can Be Confusing — and How to Decide If It’s for You

Streaming TV might sound like the antidote to sky-high cable bills, but cutting the cord is easier said than done.

3 Reasons You Can’t Rely on Medicare Alone
3 Reasons You Can’t Rely on Medicare Alone

Counting on Medicare to cover health care costs can jeopardize your retirement plans.

How to Achieve Your Financial Goals in 2020
How to Achieve Your Financial Goals in 2020

New year, new you. Get your finances on track with the help of these tools for investing, saving, budgeting and earning.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
11 Things Retirees Should Always Buy at Costco
11 Things Retirees Should Always Buy at Costco

This leader in bulk shopping is a great place to find discounts in the fixed-income years.

Over 50? The CDC Says You Need These 4 Vaccines
Over 50? The CDC Says You Need These 4 Vaccines

Fall is the time to schedule vaccines that can keep you healthy — and even save your life.

11 Senior Discounts for Anyone Age 55 or Older
11 Senior Discounts for Anyone Age 55 or Older

There is no need to wait until you’re 65 to take advantage of so-called “senior” discounts.

9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again

The warehouse store offers an enormous selection, but these products aren’t coming back.

8 Things You Can Get for Free at Pharmacies
8 Things You Can Get for Free at Pharmacies

In this age of higher-priced drugs and complex health care systems, a trip to the pharmacy can spark worry. Freebies sure do help.

These Are the 4 Best Medicare Advantage Plans for 2020
These Are the 4 Best Medicare Advantage Plans for 2020

Medicare Advantage customers themselves rate these plans highest.

The 10 Most Commonly Stolen Vehicles in America
The 10 Most Commonly Stolen Vehicles in America

A new model parks atop the list of vehicles that thieves love to pilfer.

9 Deep Discounts Available on Amazon This Friday
9 Deep Discounts Available on Amazon This Friday

These items are all steeply discounted — but the deals won’t last long.

7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast
7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast

Your financial security might soon depend upon the strength of your credit score.

19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree
19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree

These jobs pay more than the typical job in the U.S. — and no bachelor’s degree is required.

10 Reasons Why You Should Actually Retire at 62
10 Reasons Why You Should Actually Retire at 62

If you can, here are several good reasons to retire earlier than we’re told to.

5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free
5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free

Hesitant to drop $119 a year on an Amazon Prime membership? Here’s how to get it for free.

Do This in the Car If You Want to Avoid COVID-19
Do This in the Car If You Want to Avoid COVID-19

It takes just seconds to take this simple preventive measure.

20 Things That Are Actually Worth Stockpiling
20 Things That Are Actually Worth Stockpiling

You don’t need a year’s supply of toilet paper to survive an outbreak, but consider stocking up on these items.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

15 Products You Need — Even If You Didn’t Know It
15 Products You Need — Even If You Didn’t Know It

Discover some must-have products on Amazon that you didn’t even know you were missing.

14 Things That Are ‘Free’ With Medicare
14 Things That Are ‘Free’ With Medicare

These services could save you money and help prevent costly health problems.

5 Keys to Making Your Car Last for 200,000 Miles
5 Keys to Making Your Car Last for 200,000 Miles

Pushing your car to 200,000 miles — and beyond — can save you piles of cash. Here’s how to get there.

26 States That Do Not Tax Social Security Income
26 States That Do Not Tax Social Security Income

These states won’t tax any of your Social Security income — and in some cases, other types of retirement income.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.