Prescription prices have definitely surged over the past several years. A recent Consumer Reports National Research Center poll of 1,037 adults found that 1/3 of those taking a medication experienced a price hike in the past year — anywhere from a few dollars to more than $100 per prescription.
Big jumps in price can happen for any number of reasons. Prescription price increases can result from a product shortage or a change in your insurance coverage, and in rare instances, manufacturers may raise prices because there are no competitors selling the product, according to the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists. In addition, some of these price increases are partly due to purchases of the drug by other drug companies.
This graphic from the Wall Street Journal illustrates what happens which drugs change hands:
Some consumers, caught between a rock and a hard place, have opted to buy cheaper prescriptions — missing out on some of the benefits of the more expensive medications they were prescribed by their doctors. But, most people just pay the higher prices.
Where to get common prescriptions for the best price
Consumer Reports did some research on drug prices at different pharmacies. Check out the chart below to see which pharmacy sells common prescription medications at the cheapest price.
Though the above chart shows Consumer Reports’ general findings, it pays to shop around in your area to locate the best price.
Prescription prices vary drastically: It pays to shop around!
As a part of Consumer Reports’ survey, they found that prices on prescriptions varied drastically among retailers. In fact, according to their survey, they discovered that costs can vary as much as 10 times more at one retailer versus another!
For example, a shopper in Dallas was quoted $150 for generic Plavixat at a local CVS. But an independent pharmacy 20 minutes away was selling the drug for just $23. That’s nearly 7 times the price of the CVS.
Read more: Clark’s Prescription Plan Guide
Negotiate for a better price
It might sound bizarre to negotiate for better prices on prescriptions, but it could really save you some money!
Consumer Reports found that prescription retailers intentionally set the list price high in order to make sure they will get paid enough by insurers.
“It sounds crazy that you would need to approach buying prescription medications like you would a used car—by shopping around and haggling. But that’s the reality of today’s pharmaceutical marketplace,” says Stephen Schondelmeyer, Pharm.D., a pharmacoeconomics professor at the University of Minnesota.
In addition, follow the below steps to save even more!
Tips on how to save
- Shop online (But, be careful! This guide shows you how to do it safely.)
- Avoid chain drugstores
- Sidestep health insurance (Cash customers sometimes pay less)
- Ask for a 90-day prescription
- Ask the drugstore if this is the lowest price
- Use coupons and savings programs
In addition, you can also use a highly rated app called GoodRx, which finds the least expensive price on your prescription near you.
Read more: 4 ways to save money on prescriptions