Chances are you choose your pharmacy based on convenience, but did you know you can shop around for the best price? A new survey shows that if you do pay out of pocket you should be considering that.
A new survey by the government watchdog group NYPIRG shows the costs of prescriptions can vary depending on which pharmacy you go to.
“There could easily be a significant savings no matter what the prescription is,” Executive Director Blair Horner said.
Horner says for people without health insurance or limited health insurance that could mean a lot.
“For those people, the prices do matter.”
That’s why he says there’s a website in place to help people price compare.
“It only makes sense if people use it and they can only use it if they know it exists.”
Required signs at pharmacies are meant to do just that but Horner says they’re not always posted.
“We found when we looked at the survey that most stores that we looked at did not have that information.”
One was found at Marra’s Pharmacy in Cohoes where Assemblyman John McDonald breaks down the price discrepancies for me.
“Prescription pricing is all over the map,” Assemblyman McDonald said.
The NYPIRG survey found in the City of Albany a popular asthma drug cost more than $400 at the highest price and had a low elsewhere of $263.
McDonald says there’s a reason for this.
“Pharmacies have raised their prices because of the low reimbursements. They don’t want to underbill the insurance company.”
Even so, many people only pay the co-pay under their insurance, something McDonald says pharmacists are aware of.
“Many pharmacists work very carefully to make sure patients can afford their prescriptions.”
He also says a gag order on pharmacists has been recently lifted, meaning they can tell you what the lowest price of your medication will be, so don’t be afraid to ask.
“Would it be less expensive if I got this without my insurance?”
Horner says there are two main takeaways from the survey, the signage needs to be more prevalent at the counter and the web link needs to be more accessible.
“We have to do a better job to let the public know that this buried treasure exists,” Horner said.
To use that tool you can head to the Department of Health’s website.