About 3 years ago I wrote a post here recommending that people shop around locally for pharmaceutical deals and talked about some of my experiences. Based on a recent news story about the rising costs of insulin and all the complaints people are making it seemed like it was a good time to bring this up again.

2014/365/307 Eight Bottles
Creative Commons License Alan Levine via Compfight

In the story, it talk about how over the course of just 4 or 5 years the cost of insulin has gone over $400 to $500 a month from around $100 to $200. Yet, when I wrote my initial post in 2013, my insulin at Walmart has remained at the same price, that being $24.88 per vial, still less than $50 a month.

This tells me that my original point about shopping around for medications hasn’t taken hold. It’s probably because many people are relying on insurance to help them bring down the costs of their medications instead of looking for out of pocket deals, which often brings lower rates. For instance, when I first went to Walmart with a prescription my out-of-pocket cost would have been $75 a month for pen needles, which wasn’t bad for those things, as they cost a lot, but it was still higher than going to vials and learning how to inject via syringes instead.

A couple other things have changed since I wrote that initial post. The first is that the cholesterol medication I was on at that time (which I wasn’t taking) that I was getting for free suddenly wasn’t free anymore and had jumped to $40 a month. After having another conversation with my physician (and another physician and a pharmacist lol) because I didn’t have high cholesterol and didn’t want to take the medication, I got them to switch to a different prescription at a lower dose that now costs me $10 for a 90-day refill at a different store.

Also, as I’ve been on Metformin for diabetes for closer to 7 years now and the price changed where I was previously getting it, I called around and found that a store I usually go to, which had other pharmaceuticals at a higher price and forced me to get them elsewhere, offered this particular item for $10 for a 90-day supply; yeah! 🙂

Here’s the deal. Almost every community has multiple pharmacies that you can call and ask the price of specific prescriptions. There are also multiple grocery store chains that have their own pharmacy, and some of them produce their own products like Walmart does. All you have to do is pick up the phone and make the call, and you could possibly save a lot of money on prescriptions.

One last thing is that you can go online and find many deals for items related to your disease. Whereas I’d never buy pharmaceuticals via eBay (I don’t even know if they sell them), I do buy my diabetic test strips through there. You can usually get a great deal on an item that’s close to expiring, and you can get even greater deals on expired strips. That’s okay because, it turns out, most testing strips are good even after a year or two past expiration date. For my money, I’ve purchased strips within 6 months of their expiration date and gotten a lot (100 or more) for as low as $10, and found that they’re still accurate (based on the tests my endocrinologist does).

I’ve spent a lot of time talking about diabetic stuff because that’s what I have experience with. You can still call around for prices on whatever it is you’re taking, whether or not you have insurance, to see who’s offering you the best deal. I recommend that you do; you could save a lot of money!

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