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Help! My presciption drugs cost too much.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013
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Get More from Your Benefits, Lowering your out-of-pocket costs

Understanding prescription drugs and how to lower your costs

Controlling drug cost factors

Rising drug costs are making it harder for people to afford prescription drugs. When filling your prescription at the pharmacy, have you ever wondered what makes up the cost of your drugs?

Dispensing fees and mark-up are two factors that affect the price of prescription drugs. To help control increasing costs, you can shop around for the lowest dispensing fees and mark-up.

This lowers your out-of-pocket expenses if your health care plan does not fully cover prescription drug costs or dispensing fees, regulates rising healthcare costs, and maintains the sustainability of your health care plan.

What is a dispensing fee?

A dispensing fee is the amount charged to you by the pharmacy for dispensing the drug. Pacific Blue Cross data shows that dispensing fees can range from $4 per prescription to $12 or more among different pharmacies.

What is a mark-up?

A mark-up is a percentage added to the wholesale price of the drug. It can be up to 17% over the wholesale cost.

Together, dispensing fees and mark-up cover items such as:

  • Compensation to pharmacists for reviewing and ensuring the medication prescribed to you is appropriate and safe, and for counseling you on how to take your medication correctly.
  • Operating costs that include the stocking of medication, the maintenance of patient medication records, the renting of space, payment of taxes, and employee salaries.

How you can help control costs for everyone

Not all extended health care plans cover 100% of prescription drug costs or even dispensing fees. Also, rising healthcare costs can impact the sustainability of health care plans.

Save yourself money and help regulate rising healthcare costs by:

  • Calling several pharmacies to find out who has the lowest dispensing fees and mark-up.
  • Purchasing a three months’ supply of prescriptions at once and paying only one dispensing fee.
  • Asking your pharmacist if he or she can offer a lower cost generic version of your prescribed drug.
  • Asking your pharmacist if he or she can suggest an alternative and more cost-effective treatment. The pharmacist can collaborate directly with your doctor to provide you with a lower cost treatment while ensuring the quality of your treatment.

In addition to saving money on your prescriptions, you can also cut costs on your health care expenses.

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