How to Handle Prescription Price Increases

How to Handle Prescription Price Increases

If there’s anything that’s been getting on the nerves of both physicians and patients recently, it’s this: the price of prescription drugs has gone up for about 30% of all Americans in the last year. According to a new Consumer Reports survey, the average price jump was $63, but in some cases, people have seen an increase of $500.

And it’s not just the increase that’s difficult to deal with - it’s the swinging fluctuations. I’ve seen this for myself: one of my patients was told her medication would cost $500.  She declined, but her husband encouraged her to go back and get it.   She went back a month later to pick it up and the price had dropped to $30. From month to month, we have seen the price of medication changing dramatically and we are not quite sure how to get it under control.

As a provider, this is incredibly frustrating because we just don’t know what our patients will be met with at the pharmacy. This is in turn taxing for our patients, who expect us to be in the know - but as the survey shows, it’s changing all the time. Moreover, it seems that pharmacies are taking advantage of insurance companies. Pharmacies will give us cards that help us lower the cost for patients, but we will find that pharmacies will then overcharge insurance companies to the point that insurance may no longer cover that medication. This means that even if we are lowering the cost for a patient, we really don’t know what’s going on at the insurance level.

So what can be done about it? According to Kaiser Health News, “Some consumers who use health insurance copays to buy prescription drugs are paying far more than they should be and would be better off paying with cash, especially for generics.” The added cost runs as high as $30 or more per prescription, say pharmacists, and the money is largely being pocketed by middlemen who collect the added profit from local pharmacies.

Your other option is to start with what your state-based program covers - at least that way, you know you’re getting fair coverage and it will likely be at a reasonable expense for you as well. Either way, we can only hope the price fluctuations will eventually level out, to make life easier for both providers and their patients.

If you are concerned about your dermatology prescription prices and want to speak to a provider, please visit our Dermatology specialists at one of our locations in Middle Tennessee: NashvilleFranklinColumbia, and Pulaski.


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Dr Pena

About The Author

Dr. Pena is a Board-Certified Medical Dermatologist, Mohs skin cancer surgeon, and cosmetic dermatologist. Her mission is to educate the diverse patient populations she serves, and their communities, on the importance of skin care in decreasing the risk of skin cancer and minimizing the early signs of aging. She founded Skin Solutions Dermatology with numerous clinics in Nashville, Tennessee and surrounding Middle Tennessee.

Dr. Julia Pena, MD