Beating high prescription costs - WJLA

by Lisa Fletcher, ABC7 News

Washington, DC (WJLA) – Millions of Americans with health insurance still pay out-of-pocket for medications. And the cost can reach hundreds or even thousands of dollars a year.

But what many drugmakers and pharmacies don’t want you to know is that you could lower your medication costs, sometimes by as much as ten-times, by simply walking across the street to a competing pharmacy.

On a recent fall morning, ABC7 News caught up with Poet Taylor, the host of a popular Washington, DC radio show. As she regaled her listeners with stories and witty banter, you wouldn’t have guessed she suffers from asthma. Her job and her well-being depend on her ability to control it.

“Asthma is a very serious, serious diagnosis,” said Taylor. “The wrong medication could result in me having an asthma attack and not being properly medicated.”

But Taylor, like millions of Americans, is in the center of a tug-of-war between insurance providers and drugmakers.

Big insurance companies threaten to take popular medications off their coverage list unless drugmakers reduce the price. It’s a multimillion dollar game of chicken and the drug companies don’t always flinch.

Taylor recalled a recent, surprising trip to her pharmacy. “I put in my normal refill. I’m feeling good. And I get a call from my pharmacy and the pharmacy is like, ‘nope, your insurance doesn’t cover that.’ Yes they do, I’ve been on it almost a year now. I know they do. They were like, ‘not anymore.’”

Taylor was forced to switch to another brand of inhaler that she and her doctor agree, doesn’t work as well for her asthma. Taylor says she feels like a pawn in the game of trying to force pharmaceutical companies to lower their costs.

“A company that would wager my life on, I don’t know what kind of extra money you get at the end of the year, it just reads loud and clear: We don’t really care about you. We care about the money that we make off of you,” said Taylor.

ABC7 News checked. If Taylor wanted the medication that works best for her she’d be out of pocket as much as $433.99 a month. We asked if that’s something she could afford.

“No,” said Taylor. “That would be the cost of my car insurance, my car payment and my phone bill.”

But what Taylor and millions of others like her didn’t know is that you can comparison shop for drugs just like you would a car, a bed, or the paper towels in your kitchen.

“The crazy thing we see every day is that same drug, same exact prescription, different pharmacy, much better price,” says Shawn Ohri. Ohri works for ScriptSave, a pharmacy benefits manager, or PBM.

There are about 30 PBM’s in the U.S. and they negotiate prices on prescriptions for their members.

Ohri says insured or not, everyone should comparison shop.

“Twenty-eight million people that we know are uninsured today, You’ve got 20 million people that are on high-deductible health plans in 2016 and that number’s growing year-over-year, and then you’ve got 10 to 20 percent of the people that have great coverage, but that particular drug that they’re using isn’t covered,” says Ohri.

One way to shop around is to call every pharmacy in your area. Another is to use an app.

Ohri’s company came up with an app called “WellRx.” There are a handful of others and each is likely to find different deals for you, depending on how they negotiate with the pharmaceutical companies.

Using the WellRx app, ABC7 News compiled the most popular prescriptions in DC, Maryland and Virginia and compared prices among the top 10 pharmacy retailers.

The antibiotic amoxicillin is the No. 1 most purchased drug in Maryland. It’s three and a half times more expensive at CVS than Walmart.

The high blood pressure medicine amlodipine besylate is one of the most popular prescriptions in Virginia. It’s nearly six-times more expensive at WalMart than it is at Kmart.

And in DC, the second most prescribed drug, sildenafil, used for high blood pressure in the lungs, or as a generic form of Viagra, is more than eleven-times more expensive at Walgreens than Costco…at $195.00 versus $17.60.

“It pays to shop around, even with these types of programs,” says Ohri.

And that’s something Taylor won’t soon forget as she tries to outmaneuver the insurance and drug companies.

“I’m a person who wants to live a healthy, happy life,” said Taylor. “I don’t know why you would want to stand in the way of that. And I would hope an extra thousand dollars, or extra million should not matter more than me living, me breathing, me being here.”

Remember that depending on what app you’re using, the prices can vary – sometimes by a lot.

See the original story on the WJLA website.


Download the free WellRx app from the iOS app store or the Google Play Store,
and get registered to take advantage of our free medication adherence tools.
If you’re struggling to afford your medications,
visit www.WellRx.com to compare the cash price at pharmacies near you.
You may find prices lower than your insurance co-pay!

 

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shop around to save on medications

For those who are new to the ScriptSave WellRx prescription savings program, you may not realize just how long our company has been in the business of saving patients money on their prescriptions. It’s actually well over 20 years – we date back to 1993.

As such, it’s certainly nothing new to us to encounter people ‘paying it forward’ and helping to spread the word. That said, in all that time, it had never occurred to us to open our website to guest bloggers – until now.

Shell Roush is a Saturday Soccer Mom who lives in North Carolina and author of the extremely popular “Things I Can’t Say” blogsite. To simply refer to her as a “Mommy Blogger” doesn’t quite do her justice but, as she states, “I’m a mommy and I blog.” However, as her audience of ~30,000 unique visitors every month will attest, you’ll find that she writes so much more than just posts about parenting … including the following, which she wrote about us…

“The Easiest Way to Shop Around for the Best Prices on Prescriptions
by Shell Roush

The pharmacy assistant was typing away at her monitor when she paused and looked up at me to ask “You are aware of the cost of this medication?” with a note of apology in her voice.

I sighed and responded that unfortunately, I was and that yes, I still needed the prescription filled.

She hesitated and very quietly told me that if I needed a prescription filled and I didn’t have insurance, I’d be better off going to the pharmacy across the street because it had better prices.

Until that moment, I had no idea different pharmacies charged different amounts for the same medication. I’m not sure why it was such a surprise since everything, from milk to gas, has a price that varies from place to place.

But there are so many pharmacies that it would be extremely time-consuming to check all of them, especially since the prices aren’t clearly listed in store. It would require me to either, call and inquire about a specific medication, or even show up in store to ask.

But by using the ScriptSave® WellRx website and mobile app, I can access their fast, easy, and free price-check tool. I put in my zip code here in Jacksonville, NC and I quickly see the specific prices for all of the pharmacies near me. It’s so much more convenient than having to make all of those phone calls.

Not only does the cost of the same medication vary from one pharmacy to the next, it can vary greatly. When I pay out of pocket for one of the medications for my son, it costs around $300. The ScriptSave WellRx app shows me the discounts available near me, making the current cost anywhere from $156.92 all the way up to $274.99.

That’s such a huge difference in price of the same medication, saving me over $100 every month. I like how easy ScriptSave WellRx makes the price check. With three growing boys, I can take those savings and apply them to the rest of the things they need, like soccer dues, 5k race registrations, and computer coding classes.

Because the ScriptSave WellRx card/app is free to download, requires no credit card information to be entered, and has no membership fee, it’s definitely worth trying. Maybe you’ll get a better deal by using your insurance or without ScriptSave WellRx, but it is so quick and easy to compare prices that I always check it before I call my son’s doctor for a refill on his prescription.”


For the best Rx price on
prescription medications,
visit www.WellRx.com.
Compare prices at more than
62,000 pharmacies nationwide.

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organizing your medications photo

For those who are new to the ScriptSave WellRx prescription savings program, you may not realize just how long our company has been in the business of saving patients money on their prescriptions. It’s actually well over 20 years – we date back to 1993.

As such, it’s certainly nothing new to us to encounter people ‘paying it forward’ and helping to spread the word. That said, in all that time, it had never occurred to us to open our website to guest bloggers – until now.

After years of working 12 hour days and living on a diet of frozen pizzas, diet soda and coffee, Ellen Christian decided that she’d had enough of being sick, tired and fed-up with everything. Taking matters into her own hands, she turned the tides and now writes about healthy living for busy women while also being a loving caregiver to her disabled husband. She lives in Castleton, VT and authors the extremely popular “Confessions of an Overworked Mom” blogsite. She reaches ~25,000 unique readers every month and we’re delighted that she also uses the ScriptSave WellRx program and that she agreed to write the following blog post for us…

“Be Prepared. Planning Pharmacy Visits Can Save Time As Well As Money
by Ellen Christian

Now is the time to get organized for cold and flu season. Since my husband is disabled, he has a reduced immune system. Staying healthy during cold and flu season is even more important to us because of this reason. An illness that I can fight off or that lasts me only a day or two can last him a week or more or turn into something more serious.

How to Get Organized for Cold and Flu Season

Living in Vermont, it seems like our cold and flu season lasts quite a while. Winter is the time of year when we get sick most frequently. Unfortunately, it’s also the time of year when we have snow, sleet, and bad weather. Hazardous driving conditions are just another reason why we try to get organized for cold and flu season. I don’t want to have to run to the store to get tissues or fill a prescription in the middle of a snowstorm.

Right now, I’m stocking up on tissues, orange juice, cough drops, Vitamin C, elderberry syrup and, of course, Marty’s prescriptions. Since he’s disabled, he has several prescriptions he takes each month to manage his symptoms. It can be fairly time-consuming to check the prices for each one with several drug stores. Prescription prices can change regularly so I cannot just assume I’m going to find the best price for everything all in one place.

I’ve been using an app and website called ScriptSave WellRx to save money on Marty’s prescriptions. When I searched on pharmacies in the Castleton, Vermont area, I was surprised at the options. I didn’t realize that my insurance didn’t always have the lowest price for every prescription. Did you know that you may be able to save more money by paying cash and using ScriptSave WellRx? – (Learn more about paying cash for prescriptions here).

ScriptSave WellRx gives “Medicine Chest Pricing” that lets me enter the details of several of Marty’s prescriptions at the same time. Then, I can click the “Price-check” button to see EITHER, the one single pharmacy that gives me the lowest ‘one-stop price’ OR the specific combination of pharmacies that give the lowest individual price for every single prescription.

That means I can stop at one pharmacy with the lowest overall price when I’m pressed for time. Or, I can go from store to store to get each one at the most affordable price when I want to. I can even save all of Marty’s prescriptions in one secure place so I can price-check them each month instead of re-entering them. That’s a huge time saver when you have multiple prescriptions. I just don’t have time to call all the different pharmacies in my area every month for all his prescriptions.

The card is totally free to use and you can get the app in the iTunes store or on Google Pay for free. There’s nothing lost to give it a try and see what you can save. There are no fees and it doesn’t need your credit card information. Plus, there is no way you’ll pay more for your prescription than you do right now. You’ll either get a discount or you can use your insurance like you normally would. Just have the pharmacist check the price with the card and with your insurance.

Give it a try and download it today. On average, members save around 45%, but prescription prices change all the time so it’s always worth re-checking before each refill (…and, as mentioned previously, this is made so much easier by using the ScriptSave WellRx ‘Medicine Chest’).  It’s easy to find savings and every little bit helps. Plus, it has convenient reminders that help keep you on track when you’re busy.


For the best Rx price on
prescription medications,
visit www.WellRx.com.
Compare prices at more than
62,000 pharmacies nationwide.

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Always ask the cash price - you could save on your prescriptions

The “he said/she said” of Rx pricing tools

If you’ve ever used a prescription price-check tool for an Rx savings program (like ScriptSave WellRx), only to have been told a different price when the time came to collect & pay for the prescription at the pharmacy, then the next few paragraphs are for you.

Regardless of the product or service, it’s an infuriating thing to be quoted one price online, but to then be confronted with a different reality at the store (unless, of course, the price comes down – then we love it).

What can be done to avoid bad price-quotes?

For patients using prescription savings programs, there are a few steps that can be taken to help reduce the potential for errors with an Rx price-check tool.

In short, there are some very important things to keep in mind when doing a price look-up with a prescription discount card and overlooking any single one of them has the potential to make a mess of things.

In no particular order, at ScriptSave WellRx we always recommend that our members keep the following pointers in mind:

    • Potential Problem #1
      Prescription prices can be volatile and it’s not uncommon to find regular (even daily) price changes across pharmacies in any given zip code.
    • Recommendation
      When using a price-check tool or mobile app to review the lowest prescription prices in your zip code, be sure to perform one final look-up on the same day that you end up collecting & paying for your script. As frustrating as it might be to discover that prices changed for your medication overnight, it’s far less frustrating to realize this before you leave home. Especially if you also discover that the same medication actually came down in price at a different pharmacy nearby (perhaps even giving you the opportunity to make arrangements to transfer the prescription).

     

    • Potential Problem #2
      Prescription medications come in many different strengths, forms, quantities, etc. There’s also the matter of brands & generics. However, a price-check tool for a prescriptions savings card like ScriptSave WellRx has to start somewhere – and the default settings on the website will generally only return pricing results for one very specific version of each medication. For example, perhaps the price-check tool will show results for the most commonly filled strength, quantity, form and manufacturer of the medication that you’re searching for.
    • Recommendation
      When the results of your price-check are returned by the website or mobile app, ALWAYS take a few minutes to review the details against the details on your prescription … and make the necessary manual changes (if any are needed) using the drop-down menus that determine the drug’s Strength, Quantity, Form, Brand/Generic, etc. (see Fig.1)

     

    FIGURE 1
    ask cash price filter - results image

    • Potential Problem #3
      Your pharmacist does not recognize or is not familiar with your prescription savings card.
    • Recommendation
      If you’re using the ScriptSave WellRx card or mobile app, you can be confident that if your pharmacy showed up in our price-check tool, it’s more than likely that we have a contract with them to accept your savings card. We do our best to keep our database up-to-date so as not to send members on a wild goose chase. Perhaps the best way to approach using a ScriptSave WellRx card is to do so with confidence. Although this program is NOT insurance, an Rx savings card includes the same pharmacy processing information that pharmacists see & use every day on all the different insurance cards they deal with. That being case, simply hand your ScriptSave WellRx card to the pharmacist, point to where the card shows the Rx BIN, Rx PCN, etc. and ask,
    “Would you please process my prescription using these details and let me know what my out-of-pocket cost will be?”

     

    If you’re absolutely sure that you’ve taken care of these 3 common issues and yet you’re still facing prices at the pharmacy that are higher than the quotes being shown on the ScriptSave WellRx website/app, there’s one more thing to double-check…

     

    • Potential Problem #4
      Your pharmacist used a different discount card.
    • Recommendation
      There are a number of reasons why this might have happened – and it can certainly be the result of an easy & honest mistake. For example, the ScriptSave WellRx card includes a set of codes that the pharmacist must enter into the computer before being able to tell you the price of your medication. If you look at your ScriptSave WellRx savings card or coupon, you’ll see where it says “RxBIN: 006053” (together with RxPCN, Group # and ID #). Similar codes also appear on insurance cards and they work in the same way.
       
      As with insurance, if you visit the same pharmacy each time, your name, address, DoB, etc. are saved on file for speed & convenience. As part of your saved pharmacy record, the pharmacy also stores a record of any insurance card or Rx Savings program that has been used in the past. Therefore, if you’ve used a different savings card but have since discovered more favorable pricing with ScriptSave WellRx, it’s very possible that the pharmacist simply assumed that your stored details were the same as the details on the WellRx card that you just handed him/her. Also keep in mind that no pharmacist ever wants a patient not to be able to afford their physician-prescribed medications. As such, they’re often on the lookout for ways to help their patients afford their meds (even if the patient doesn’t realize it). Therefore, even if you think you’ve never used another prescription savings card in your life before, it’s certainly not unheard of for a pharmacist to have used one on your behalf because he or she knew that it would save you some money and help you out. If that’s the case, the details pertaining to the RxBIN, RxPCN, etc. from that other card may very well be saved to your profile. This would explain why you’re receiving a discount … but not at the level that was indicated on the ScriptSave WellRx website.
       
      Take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with your savings card and next time you think you might be in this situation, politely ask the pharmacist,
    “Is there any chance you can double-check the processing details, please? Can we just be sure that we’re using the ScriptSave WellRx details as shown here on this card/coupon/app, because I was quoted a slightly lower price earlier this morning, and I’m sure it was for the same strength & quantity that’s on this prescription?”

    U.S. Based Call Center Support

    Another useful hint to keep in mind is that all ScriptSave WellRx members are serviced by a toll-free customer support number (staffed by real people right here in the U.S.). If you ever have a problem, you can call the support line toll-free at 1-800-407-8156, Monday through Friday, from 9am to 8pm EST, and our friendly staff will be glad to help get to the bottom of any issues. Given the real-time need that many patients face with filling their prescriptions, if you’ve had issues at a particular pharmacy in the past, it might be helpful to call our support staff ahead of your next visit to fill your prescription. If necessary, our staff may be able to call your pharmacy on your behalf – ahead of your visit – so that everything is smoothed out before you arrive to pick-up and pay.

    Final Thought – Love your Pharmacist (and Always Ask the Cash Price)

    Please always keep in mind that pharmacists have a LOT going on and they can be incredibly busy. Although they can make it look simple at times, that’s generally a reflection of their professionalism & experience, and their role in a patient’s healthcare is not to be underestimated. Pharmacists are a truly valuable resource and they juggle a lot of different tasks. If you meet a pharmacist who looks at your prescription savings card and doesn’t immediately recognize it, don’t be surprised. We can’t expect every pharmacist, at every pharmacy, to recognize and remember every single savings card and insurance program that they have a contract with. More often than not, if you ask your pharmacist (politely) to try processing your prescription using the details on the card, they will be happy to give it a try. If that doesn’t work, and if you’re using a card from ScriptSave, you have a tollfree support number to call for assistance.

    As for “Always Ask the Cash Price” … that’s a must-do for patients who don’t want to over-pay (especially for those WITH prescription insurance). For more insights on this, read our blog post on why you should Always Ask the Cash Price.


    Download the free WellRx app from the iOS app store or the Google Play Store,
    and get registered to take advantage of our free medication adherence tools.

    If you’re struggling to afford your medications,
    visit www.WellRx.com to compare the cash price at pharmacies near you.
    You may find prices lower than your insurance co-pay!

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WNCT9 prescription savings story

GREENVILLE N.C. (WNCT) – Pharmacy prices can differ from store to store and should be treated like buying a car.

Most people think of just going to the pharmacy closest to them instead of looking around for their medication.

When in reality, it can differ by sometimes a significant amount.

There are different ways that you can go about finding these prices.

Certain apps will bring up every pharmacy within a number of miles of your current location.

From there, you type in the medication that you’re looking for and all of the prices will come up right in front of you.

A creator of one of those apps says he looks for the cheapest prices for everything else – so why not do it for our medication.

“Any pharmacies have an in store savings program for low cost drugs,” said Shawn Ohri, creator of ScriptSave WellRx. “But it doesn’t mean all drugs are low cost at that pharmacy, they’re bringing in a good number of prescriptions at a low cost but there may be others that don’t have a low cost.”

You can find apps like this in the Apple Store or the Google Play Store.

Some are free and others require a subscription.

9 On Your Side looked up some of the top medications used in Greenville and found a difference of almost $30 in some of the different locations, showing it really does work to look before you shop.

Top 10 Drugs (non-controls)  Greenville, NC
Reporting Period: Jan 2017 – June 2017
Date Prepared: 07/27/2017
Rank Drug     Lowest Pharmacy
1 AMLODIPINE BESYLATE     Harris Teeter Pharmacy
2 Generic form of Norvasc (High blood pressure, chest pain)

ATORVASTATIN CALCIUM

    Hometown Discount Pharmacy of Greenville
3 Generic form of Lipitor (High Cholesterol)

HYDROCHLOROTHIAZIDE

    Harris Teeter Pharmacy
4 Waterpill/Diuretic (High blood pressure and fluid retention)

METOPROLOL SUCCINATE

    Rite Aid Pharmacy
5 Generic form of Toprol (High blood pressure, chest pain, and heart failure)

GABAPENTIN

    Rite Aid Pharmacy
6 Generic form of Neurontin (Nerve pain medication – very common)

METOPROLOL TARTRATE

    Walmart Pharmacy
7 Generic form of Lopressor (High blood pressure, chest pain, and heart failure)

LEVOTHYROXINE SODIUM

    Walmart Pharmacy
8 Generic form of Synthroid (Thyroid hormone)

SERTRALINE HCL

    Harris Teeter Pharmacy
9 Generic form of Zoloft (Anxiety/Deperession)

LISINOPRIL

    Harris Teeter Pharmacy
10 Very common heart failure / high blood pressure medication.

PREDNISONE  Steroid used for inflammation.

    Walmart Pharmacy
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PIX 11 News - Prescription Savings image

by Kirstin Cole, PIX 11 News, New York

Unlock secret savings on prescriptionsIt’s a growing strain on our bottom line:  more Americans taking ever more prescribed medications and spending more of their income to do it.

The toll is evident, as one in 10 of us can’t afford our medications and are simply going without.  It’s what’s inspired one group to use the insider info they gained working in the pharmaceutical business to beat the drug sellers at their own game.

Here’s how to unlock your own secret savings, necessary since prescription pills are a daily way of life for nearly 60 percent of Americans, and it’s pricey.

Natalie Stelzer of Brooklyn Heights was blunt: “They are off the charts.  So expensive. Co-pays are dismal.”

Even as politicians in Washington duke it out over health care reform, Americans continue to spend more on medications — up to a  projected $457 billion in 2015, and rising.

Robert Gibbons of Brooklyn Heights worries as he sees what his mother faces when it comes to her prescription dugs.  He sums it up as  “backward and profiteering.”

That’s where  ScriptSave WellRx comes in.

Shawn Ohri and his team decided to tackle it.  They’re insiders who’ve worked with pharmacies and drug makers for decades, and they’re committed to bringing savings to consumers.

“Customers can save up 80 percent off retail cost of prescriptions.  In 2016  we saved 1.3 billion dollars on their prescription costs.”

The comparison shopping all happens on their app and website, ScriptSave WellRx, and the savings can be stunning.

We comparison shopped for Crestor, the cholesterol drug, using the area around PIX11 in midtown.  Within a few blocks we found it for as little as $18, and all the way up to $239.

Whether with insurance, or without, Ohri’s company uses bulk buying of medicines to negotiate cheaper prices on drugs, often beating your insurance company’s pricing.

Other secret ways to save? Picking up one prescription where you grocery shop, another might be cheaper at the drug store, and yet another at a big box chain. The app does the leg work for you, wherever you live, work or shop.

Ohri explained that, “On top of that you are going to get our discount because of our group volume.  We’ve done all the negotiating with pharmacies.”

And with these negotiations, we all come out healthier winners.

See the entire story on Pix11.com.

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Non-adherence not an option image

  • We think so … and we’ve found others who agree
  • We’ve also released LOTS of tools to help

At ScriptSave WellRx, we’ve lost count of the number of studies and surveys presented that show just how close the relationship is between high out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs and the rate of prescription abandonment or non-adherence.

It’s one of the core reasons we do what we do – to fill gaps in prescription coverage, in an effort to make medications more affordable to those who struggle in the face of high deductibles, copays and out-of-pocket costs.

Rather than rehashing another set of adherence survey results (if you’re reading this, you probably understand adherence all too well), we have decided to share some first-hand insights to the importance of medication adherence (and some of the related struggles) from a handful of everyday patients.

Adherence matters, and these patients agree. You can read for yourselves the accounts of these patient advocates, as they tell their own stories, in their own words, about why prescription adherence it so vital.

THEN, once you’ve heard these first-hand accounts, we’ve included details of some free tools that we provide to help patients stay adherent. The ScriptSave WellRx program is so much more than just another prescription savings card. Our members are given access (at NO COST) to many adherence-based tools in addition to our fast, easy, free price-check tool. More details below.

Behavioral Health

The first account is from Gabe Howard. Gabe is an advocate for mental health issues and he lives with bipolar and anxiety disorders. As he will attest, life without his psychiatric medications can lead down some pretty dark roads. Read more at …

“Is High Cost Preventing Access to Psychiatric Medication?” – click here

(…and Gabe also posted a short video on this topic via his Facebook feed. You can watch it here – it’s less than 2mins)

Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD)

Next up is Barby Ingle. Barbie is a minor celebrity in her own right, but she also deals with chronic pain. Read her take on the idea of non-adherence at …

“Free Programs That Help Pay for Prescription Drugs” – click here

Living with Lupus

Then we have Charlotta Norgaard. Charlotta’s daily struggle includes her fight with Lupus, which led her to set up the Lupus Friends & Family Foundation. Read what she has to say about the mere suggestion of non-adherence in here world…

“Prescription Adherence – and why it matters” – click here

Migraine Sufferer

Finally, there’s Sarah Hackley. Sarah’s insights into the topic of non-adherence will give an idea as to what it’s like to be a prisoner of migraines when the budget doesn’t quite stretch far enough to pick up a new prescription for a non-covered drug. Read about her struggles in …

“Affording Prescriptions When You’re Chronically Ill” – click here

Tools to Help with Medication Adherence

It’s a simple fact: drugs don’t work in patients who don’t take them. The causes of non-adherence, when a patient either accidentally or knowingly does not take medications as prescribed, can be complex. As we’ve already addressed in this blog post, non-adherence is often the result of cost; patients who simply can’t afford their medications. However, good habits and a good understanding of the medication can also be a big part of adherence.

With this in mind, we created the Medicine Chest. Registered ScriptSave WellRx members have free access to a complete suite of tools and resources, including:

  • Ask a Pharmacist
  • Pill Reminders
  • Refill Reminders
  • Medication Info (in both English and Spanish)
  • Medication Videos
  • Mood-tracking (to review side effects, etc.)
  • Price-check and Pharmacy Locator

Plus, registered members can connect directly to their pharmacies, like CVS or Walgreen’s, to automatically import their existing prescription information!

We hope these first-hand accounts on the importance of medication adherence have helped. Download our free app from the iOS app store or the Google Play Store, and get registered to take advantage of our free medication adherence tools. If you’re struggling to afford your medications, visit www.WellRx.com to compare the cash price at pharmacies near you. You may find prices lower than your insurance co-pay!

prescription savings pill-splitting - wellrx

by Hayde Blanco, PharmD Candidate
University of Arizona College of Pharmacy

Pill splitting refers to breaking a pill down to obtain a smaller amount of the whole pill. Your doctor can write a prescription that is usually double the dosage of what you should take in one day. You can then cut the pill in half, making the smaller dose that should actually be taken. For instance, a medication might be prescribed for 40 mg, but then the pill is split so you actually end up taking 20 mg.

Why Split Pills?

Pill splitting can be a huge help in cost savings if the same amount of the larger and smaller doses are sold at a similar price. Some of the most common reasons for pill splitting are:

  • Reduce the costs associated with a medication
  • Take a dosage of a drug that is not already available.

These methods can be useful to help some people save on their prescription medications, but are not suitable for everyone or for every type of pill. There are some risk factors that should be taken into consideration before splitting any pills.

Pill Splitting Concerns

When a pill is split, there may be different amounts in each half of the pill. Since the active ingredient in each pill is not usually evenly distributed throughout the pill, this may lead to one half containing more of the active ingredient than the other, giving it more potency. Some pills may be hard to split due to having an unusual shape, being too hard, or crumbling easily. There are also some medications that should never be split.

Pharmaceutical companies create some pills that are scored, meaning that they have a line down the middle to make it easier to split.

pill splitting sertaline
This pill is generic sertraline 100mg (an antidepressant) with a line down the middle. Generic pricing for 30 tablets of 100mg averages about $11.50. Generic pricing for 30 tablets of 50mg averages about $10.00. By cutting the 100mg dose in half, you would save close to half of the cost.

Some of the risk of pill splitting is related to the individual, instead of being related to the pill. A common issue is forgetting to split a pill, which could lead to taking double the amount of the prescribed dose. The directions might also be unclear if the bottle says to take one daily, but your doctor says to take one-half daily. You should always verify with your doctor if you are not sure about the prescription dosage you should be taking.

​Although there are risks involved with pill spitting, it can be an appropriate cost saving technique for some people. If pills are being split, there are some recommendations that should be followed to reduce the risks.

What are the Risks?

Some of the risk can be related to the individual instead of being related to the pill. A common issue is forgetting to split a pill, which could lead to taking twice or more of the needed dose. The directions might also be unclear if the bottle says to take one daily, but your doctor says to take one-half daily. Always verify with your doctor if you are not sure how much you should be taking.

​Although there are risks involved with pill spitting it can be an appropriate cost saving technique for some people. If pills are being split, there are some recommendations that should be followed to reduce the risks.

Splitting Pills Safely

  1. Always discuss your choices with a pharmacist or doctor before deciding to split a pill.
  2. Have a general understanding of which pills are appropriate to split and which are not.
  3. Use an appropriate pill cutter. Using a pill cutter instead of a knife or other object cuts the pill more evenly and leads to better distribution of the active ingredient.
  4. Cut the pills right before taking them instead of cutting them all at the same time. Since the distribution of the active ingredient is often not the same on both sides, taking both halves on consecutive days allows for a more even intake of the active ingredient. Additionally, a medication might not be as effective at treating your symptoms when it is broken down and exposed to air and moisture over time.
  5. Make sure you are can put this into practice safely or have someone help you if you can’t. If you have any problems with memory, trouble using your hands, or do not think you would be able to split the pills on an ongoing basis this will not be an appropriate technique to use.

These medications are usually appropriate to split, but always check with your pharmacist or doctor if it is okay to split your medication:

  • High blood pressure medications
  • High cholesterol medications (statins, like Lipitor, Crestor, or Zocor)
  • Depression medications.

These pills should not be split:

  • Capsules
  • Enteric-coated medications
  • Extended release or long acting medications
  • Combination pills containing more than one drug
  • Prepackaged pills, like birth control
  • Certain classes of medications, such as chemotherapy drugs
  • Pills with a small therapeutic index (these pills need to be taken at a very precise dose because they can lead to side effects more easily if more than the prescribed dose is taken or they might not be as effective if too little is taken).

Always remember to talk to your healthcare provider to be sure it’s appropriate for you to split a certain pill before using this cost saving technique. When done correctly, pill splitting can be a safe and effective method to reduce prescription medication costs.

 

References:

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/tablet-splitting-risky-practice-stuart-silverman

http://www.consumerreports.org/drugs/is-it-safe-to-split-pills-in-half/

http://www.consumerreports.org/drugs/get-the-right-pill-splitter-and-save-money-on-your-medication/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2827917/


For the best Rx price on statins and other medications,
visit www.WellRx.com.

Compare prices at more than
62,000 pharmacies nationwide.

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ScriptSave WellRx - Ask the Cash Price image

Always ask, “What’s the Ca$h Price?”
Always show your ScriptSave WellRx card

The ScriptSave® WellRx Facebook page sees a lot of interaction…and we love getting questions. By far the most common questions and comments we get from the public are those related to insurance.

  • “Can I use ScriptSave WellRx with my insurance?”
  • “How does it work if it’s not insurance?”
  • “I have insurance, so your card isn’t for me.”

For the record, not only is that last one a misconception among consumers, it’s also a fast-track to over-paying for your meds (and it’s the starting point for this blog post).

Here’s our “Honesty 1.01” post, on what to expect from ScriptSave WellRx and how to stretch your family’s prescription dollars.

  • Not Insurance
    ScriptSave WellRx is NOT INSURANCE. The discounts we’ve negotiated are off the cash prices for your medications. The prices you see in our free online prescription price look-up tool reflect the savings relative to what you would pay if you walk into the pharmacy as a patient with no insurance or other assistance.

So why is it so important to know the cash price? Furthermore, why is it ESPECIALLY IMPORTANT for those with insurance? The answer lies in an article everyone should read, published by Bloomberg News on Feb 24, 2017[1], and titled, “You’re Overpaying for Drugs and Your Pharmacist Can’t Tell You.”

The Bloomberg article highlights how, “Gag clauses stop pharmacists from pointing out a cheaper way” (and, yes, ScriptSave WellRx is one of those CHEAPER WAYS).

“[because of contractual constraints] Eric Pusey has to bite his tongue when customers at his pharmacy cough up co-payments far higher than the cost of their low-cost generic drugs, thinking their insurance is getting them a good deal,” states the article’s author.

Copays that look more like ‘You-Pays’

Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) and insurance companies use so-called “clawbacks” to generate additional revenue. “Clawbacks” are when PBMs tell local pharmacies to still enforce & collect the patient’s stipulated copay even when it is more than the cost of the actual medication being dispensed. To be clear, when this happens, the additional revenues that are created are not kept by the pharmacy – they are “clawed back” by the PBM

Clawbacks work like this, for example: the cost of a drug is $3.15, plus the pharmacist’s fee (his profit) of $5.83. This brings the total cash price to $8.98. However, owing to the contractual constraints placed on the pharmacy as a condition for being included in the insurer’s network of pharmacies, the pharmacist has to charge whatever copay is stated in the patient’s insurance policy; let’s say it’s a $20 copay for all covered Tier 1 drugs. So, what happens to the remaining $11.02 (the difference between what the pharmacist earns in profit and what the patient pays in copay)? Well, it is taken by the insurance company’s pharmacy benefit manager. In other words, regardless of whether the patient pays the lower cash price or the higher copay, the pharmacy still only makes the same $5.83 in fees. In theory, the pharmacist is no better or worse off regardless of whether the patient pays $8.98 or $20…but he is contractually prohibited from alerting the patient to the concept of paying cash, because he is obligated to always charge the stated copay.

These so-called copays might be better renamed, “You-Pays.” There is no shared (or co-) payment at all. In fact, the insurer picks up zero-percent of the tab on this transaction. Instead, the patient not only pays 100% of the medication cost ($3.15) and 100% of the pharmacist’s fee ($5.83), but the patient also pays an additional “You-Pay” fee of $11.02 to the insurer’s pharmacy benefit manager.

This is why knowing the prescription Cash Price is vital! ScriptSave WellRx - How Clawbacks Work image

The moral of the story is to always ask, “WHAT IS THE CASH PRICE?” and always SHOW YOUR SCRIPTSAVE WELLRX CARD. And, if you are fortunate enough to have insurance, be sure to only pay the copays, not the You-Pays!

Not only is the ScriptSave WellRx program free to all members, there’s also no cost to the patient if she or he asks for a quick price-comparison. However, you have to know how and what to ask. Our closing points, below, will wrap up our Honesty 1.01. Once you understand these points, you’ll be armed against spending unnecessary extra money at the pharmacy counter. Become a member today to get the best deals on your prescription medications..

  • Combining Discounts
    • Patients can’t combine discounts. Although that might be disappointing, it does keep things simple. Find out what your final out-of-pocket cost is with any other assistance/insurance program you have…then compare that to the ScriptSave WellRx price. Select the option that makes most sense to you & your family. HINT: our online pricing tool will help you determine the out-of-pocket cost under our program (but you can also ask the pharmacist).
  • What to Ask For
    • When you greet the pharmacist, hand over your ScriptSave WellRx card and ask, “Could you please price my prescription using the processing details on this discount card? …and, if you have insurance, also add, “…and please compare that to my insurance copay.”
  • Pharmacy Resistance
    • The pharmacies that are featured in our online pricing tool have contracted with us to accept the ScriptSave WellRx card. There are over 62,000 of them, and they process a LOT of scripts every day. They see a lot of different assistance programs and not all of these programs are created equal. Many are not at all “pharmacy friendly” or easy to work with. That being the case, there will be times when a pharmacist might not recognize your ScriptSave WellRx card. If you experience difficulty, we have a toll-free number 1-800-407-8156. Feel free to make use of it. Better yet, ask the pharmacist to call us (there’s actually a special dedicated toll-free number specifically for questions from the pharmacy).

Whether you’re benefit disadvantaged or not, you owe it to yourself and your family to be a savvy ScriptSaver and learn how to save money on prescriptions. Ask for the prescription cash price with your ScriptSave WellRx card next time you fill or re-fill, and avoid the “You-Pays.”

 

————–Addendum (17 Oct, 2017)————–

If we’d known that Lester Holt would end up reporting on this very same phenomenon on NBC Nightly News[2], we might have just waited so that we could let them summarize things for everyone. Oh well, it’s good to know that others in the media have picked up this story (great minds think alike). Check out what Lester and the NBC news team have to say…

 

Reference:

[1] https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-02-24/sworn-to-secrecy-drugstores-stay-silent-as-customers-overpay

[2] https://www.nbcnews.com/nightly-news/video/nbc-news-investigation-prescriptions-may-be-cheaper-without-insurance-1074629699698 


For the best Rx price on medications, like
Crestor (rosuvastatin),
Celebrex (celecoxib),
ProAir HFA,

visit
www.WellRx.com.

Compare prices at more than
62,000 pharmacies nationwide.

ScriptSave WellRx Prescription Savings Mobile App

TUCSON, Ariz.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–ScriptSave, which provides prescription savings solutions and cards for the uninsured, underinsured, and insured, has launched a new mobile health application, ScriptSave® WellRx, to put prescription savings directly into the hands of consumers.

“Rising costs for prescription medications combined with the increasing number of health benefit designs that include higher out of pocket spend have placed a bigger financial burden on the patient,” said Dr. Marcus Sredzinski, COO and Executive Vice President, ScriptSave. “This financial hardship can in turn lead to poor medication adherence and compliance. We are excited to offer ScriptSave WellRx as a tool to help consumers stay on their medication therapy for better health outcomes.”

The ScriptSave WellRx mobile app allows consumers to search and compare prescription drug prices, locate pharmacies, and receive immediate savings at the register on both generic and brand prescription medications. ScriptSave WellRx is accepted nationwide at more than 62,000 participating pharmacies. Savings can be applied to prescription medications for the entire family – even pets.

Based on a recent survey by Consumer Reports, 33 percent of Americans were paying an average of $39 more out of pocket for their regular prescription medications over the last 12 months alone, and 10 percent were paying as much as an extra $100.1 The same report stated, “Nearly 40 percent of people in this situation cut at least one corner with their medication in order to save money.”

As a result, medication adherence continues to be a significant area of concern in terms of its impact on both cost and quality of care. An estimated $291 billion annually in largely avoidable healthcare costs are attributed to non-adherence.2 ScriptSave WellRx supports consumers in directing their own care, ensuring they have the tools necessary to make informed choices, and adhere to effective, prescribed medicines.

“We built ScriptSave WellRx to deliver on the company’s long-standing commitment to improving the lives of our customers,” said Paige Berger, Executive Vice President, Marketing and Sales, ScriptSave. “ScriptSave is uniquely positioned to create real change and deliver meaningful prescription savings solutions due in large part to our dynamic partnerships with industry-leading organizations and nationally-based pharmacies who share our focus on caring for customers.”

Direct-to-consumer advertising and other market forces have fueled demand for drugs regardless of insurance coverage, and consumers continue to seek out pharmacies and discount programs to ease the cost burden. ScriptSave WellRx leverages some of the most advanced technology, pharmacy expertise and customer service experience in the industry to help close gaps in healthcare and navigate the consumer to the best prescription coverage.

Feature enhancements scheduled for 2016 will allow patients to learn about possible drug interactions, ask a pharmacist about medication-specific questions, and receive reliable medication reminders and timely refill alerts to ensure adherence to medication regimen.

The mobile health application is an expansion of ScriptSave’s existing prescription savings initiatives and the original ScriptSave WellRx product, which launched seven years ago as the wellrx.com website. The ScriptSave WellRx prescription savings card and tools are available at wellrx.com, and the mobile app is available as a free download on the Apple App Store and on the Android Google Play Store.

About ScriptSave:

For more than two decades, Medical Security Card Company (MSC) LLC, (d/b/a ScriptSave) has been closing the gaps in healthcare and prescription coverage with innovative savings programs for the uninsured, underinsured, and insured. A member of the MedImpact Healthcare Systems, Inc. family of companies, ScriptSave is committed to reducing out-of-pocket drug costs so consumers can afford to fill prescriptions, follow prescribed regimens, and enjoy better health outcomes. For more information, go to www.scriptsave.com.

1 Consumer Reports accessed online: http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2015/08/are-you-paying-more-for-your-meds/index.htm
2 Bosworth HB. Medication adherence: making the case for increased awareness. National Consumers League. Available at http://scriptyourfuture.org/wp-content/themes/cons/m/Script_Your_Future_Briefing_Paper.pdf1. Accessed March 2015

Contacts

Medical Security Card Company LLC
Shawn Ohri
Vice President, Business Development
sohri@scriptsave.com

 

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