Drug prices are difficult to determine for patients. Drug wholesalers, distributors, healthcare providers, pharmacy benefit managers and pharmacists keep prices hidden from the public. But now, that changes.
The Dispatch has analyzed federal drug pricing data, combined with codes attached to each type of drug distributed in the United States, to give the public a better understanding of what their drugs should cost.
The public can use this tool to look up what their pills should cost and compare the numbers with what they are charged at the pharmacy counter or through the mail.
The price listed is the acquisition cost pharmacists are paying from drug wholesalers. It is a baseline. The price does not include pharmacists' dispensing fees, which should be a small fraction. If there is a significant difference in price it's time to start asking questions.
AT THE PHARMACY COUNTER
- Ask your pharmacist why there is such a difference. Pharmacists can see the breakdown on their screens when they cash you out.
- Ask what the price of the prescription would be if you paid cash or what the cash discount price would be instead of going through your insurance provider.
- If using mail order these questions should be asked of the pharmacy benefit manager, which fills your mail order prescription.
- At work, ask your human resources director or representative if your company has a say in what drugs are put on the formulary of your healthcare provider. The formulary is the list of drugs approved to be covered under your healthcare and the price your healthcare provider charges you.
- If you are taking a brand name drug, ask your human resources director if your company gets a rebate. If so, ask if it that money is put back into your plan to reduce costs. Or does your company use the rebate money for other budget purposes?
- Call your healthcare company and its pharmacy benefit manager and demand more transparency.