How Can I Get a Better Price on Prescriptions?


Welcome to Ask Clark, a column designed to answer your financial questions, by money expert Clark Howard.

Why Do Pharmacies Charge Different Prices for the Same Drugs?

Barbara from Florida: “My doctor prescribed two drugs for a recent problem and when I went to pick them up, the tech told me that they ran them through my insurance and there was a $65 balance. And was that OK: I was in a lot of pain and needed them so I had no choice.

“When I got home, I checked the drugs against my GoodRx app and found the cash price would have been $40 less. I went back a couple of days later with my receipt when I was feeling better and was given a refund of the difference. 

“My question: How can the same exact pharmacy charge such different prices on the same exact drugs? Who took a hit on the $40 refund: the pharmacy or the drug maker?”

Clark’s Take on Why Pharmacies Charge Different Prices for the Same Drugs … and What You Can Do About It

Clark says: “Likely what happened is the prescription drug plan you have was the one that took the hit.”

“There’s a lot of hocus-pocus that goes on behind the scenes with reimbursements for prescription drugs and charges to you, as the insured from your employer, that you end up being ripped off on prescription benefits that you do through your prescription drug plan,” Clark says.

Clark says he’s found that it’s been cheaper for him to fill most of his prescriptions without insurance vs. with insurance.

To save money on prescriptions, he advises using the GoodRx app along with its competitors.

“On probably at least 80% of the drugs you fill, it will be much cheaper being a straight cash payer using one of these apps than it would be using the insurance your employer provided you,” he says.

Want to learn more about GoodRx? Here are 10 things to know.

To hear Clark’s full take on this question and many more, listen to the full episode here:


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If you have a question but you don’t want to go on the air, contact Clark’s Consumer Action Center for free money help.

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