Elsewhere on this site I mentioned that under our New and Improved Insurance Plan one of my monthly maintenance drugs is going to double in price, from $30 to $60. The actual price of the drug, of course, isn't changing at all: what is changing is the amount the insurance weasels are willing to fork over for it.

As it happens, the pharmacy I use discloses their regular retail price somewhere on the ticket, and this particular drug sells for $65.33 for the usual 30-day supply. With a $60 copay, this means that CFI Care [not its real initials] will be putting up a whole five dollars and thirty-three cents.

The argument is made, of course, that there are less-expensive drugs out there, and no doubt there are. I used to take rather a lot of them. Then I found something that worked consistently with minimal side effects, and I stuck to it. Over the years, it has come down somewhat in price: a pharmacy I used to use on the east side charged $103 for it, but that was four years ago.

I have noticed that of the six drugs I am more or less regularly prescribed, five are presently available in generic form, and three of them are available on both Wal-Mart's and Target's $4 prescription lists. [Both links go to PDF files.] What I can't find out online, however, is how much they'd charge for the other three prescriptions and whether they might have that one $60-ish drug for less than sixty dollars.

Now this is a group package in which I'm enrolled; I can't cherry-pick through it and select the coverages I want and deselect the coverages I don't want. (And if I could, what are the chances that my employer, who currently writes the check for the entire annual premium, would kick back any savings to me? Yeah, that's what I thought.) On the other hand, not turning in a $80 $110 claim every month might help ward off the apparently-inevitable benefit cuts that seem to show up every other year or so.

On an impulse, I checked one of the Canadian pharmacies that quotes prices in US dollars; they offer this drug in 90-day quantities for $146 and change. That's a shade under $50 a month, which would be an improvement, though there's the matter of shipping charges: fifteen bucks. So make that a shade under $55 a month, which is still an improvement, albeit a lesser one. (Oklahoma has no sales tax on prescriptions, so this is not a factor.) There's no additional shipping charge if you order more than one prescription from them, but they don't come close to beating the locals when it comes to drugs on the four-dollar lists. So unless I'm willing to spread my prescription business among two or three firms in two different countries which frankly I hate the thought of doing I'm not going to be able to maximize my potential savings. This bothers me less than you might think paying the absolute lowest price for everything has never been a major priority for me but my desire to throw money away is pretty close to nil.

As a precautionary measure, I refilled every single prescription I had on the last day of the year, right before the old coverage expired. Therefore it appears I have until the first of February to find alternatives. I suppose I'm going to have to start making some phone calls.

The Vent

  7 January 2008

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 Copyright © 2008 by Charles G. Hill