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by Octapoo

Tuesday, May 25, 2021 at 06:42:00 UTC

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I'm in love with enough that I need to piss off @everyone by tagging @everyone to tell them about it. (I hear people hate @everyone tags, so sorry I guess, but has saved me and my mother a lot of money and I think everyone should save money.)

You put your prescriptions into it and it tells you what they will cost at every pharmacy. The differences can be extreme. I've seen medication that is $100 at one pharmacy be $10 at another. I've seen cheaper medications that are $10 at one pharmacy be free at another.

Today I got a prescription for some blood pressure medication and, because my doctor loves to just send the prescriptions to the pharmacy electronically, I forgot to get one on paper so that I could use to see where to take it. However, still helped because it also can often give you a "coupon" in the form of insurance information, and it had one for the pharmacy I was at, and that brought the price down from the $145 they wanted to charge me to just $45. I just showed my phone to the check out person and she ran off with it and came back 5 minutes later and was like "now it's $45."

You can try it out just by going to the site and typing a couple of random letters and picking whatever random medication pops up in the search field. I did that and picked "buspirone" and it turns out that you can get it at Walmart for $4, but if you didn't check first and went to Rite Aid with no insurance, it would cost you $69.

It also once told me that my amoxicillin prescription would be free at Meijer, and though I'd never used that pharmacy before, I went there and they gave it to me for free. At my usual pharmacy that would have cost me $12, and if I'd ever used Rite Aid, I could have paid $25 for it there.

Even if you have insurance, here's a fun fact: At least with some insurance plans, if your co-pay for prescriptions is $20, but the drug is only $5, you still pay $20 for that drug if you use your insurance. So it's worth your time to check to make sure that the drug isn't actually cheaper than your co-pay, and if it is, then make sure you're not using your insurance when you buy it.

Interestingly, there seems to be no rule about which pharmacy is the cheapest. The prices are kind of just random, so you really have to use the site every time you get a new prescription.

I also really find the free coupon insurance plans interesting. I've argued for a long time that the high cost of healthcare is mostly due to a lack of competition. People don't shop around for the cheapest hospital when they need to go to the ER.

Indeed, even if you wanted to do that, how would you do it? You just go to one and they charge you whatever they want when they're done. I think pharmacies have typically been the same way. Maybe you might occasionally take your prescription to a different pharmacy for some random reason and notice it's cheaper, but for the most part I think people just assume that drugs cost whatever they cost.

So perhaps what is going on here is that they all randomly have good and bad prices so that if you're comparing price on one prescription then you might find their pharmacy to be the lowest, but then over time as you continue to use them without comparing prices, you'll massively over-pay for some drug in the future. I think what's going on with the free coupon insurance plans is that they show that you're actively comparing prices, and so the pharmacy is like "OK, if we can't make $100 off of you, we'd rather make $10 off of you than $0, so here's a more sensible price." Like, if they were losing money at the lower price, they wouldn't offer it. So that $100 I saved today by having that coupon, if I had paid it, it would have been pure profit for the pharmacy.

Hopefully someday a will show up and when you break your arm you can go to it and find the cheapest emergency room to visit.


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