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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