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  • Writer's picturerbm

Why do medications cost so much? (I)

Updated: Jan 13, 2022

For generic drugs, the problem is usually your insurance company, pretending to be doing you a favor by "negotiating" with the drug companies for a good price. Usually, the price you pay with insurance coverage is higher than the cash price you would pay if you did not have insurance.

Try it some time. Ask your pharmacist to give you the cash price for the prescription. For a generic drug, you may save $5-$20.

This also works if your insurance company declines to pay for your prescription. because they don't believe the medication that you and your doctor have selected for your condition is the right drug for your condition. It is unlikely that they understand your medical condition better than you and your doctor, but do your research to be sure. When you are sure it is the right drug for you, go back and pay cash. When the insurance company says "no" it does not mean you cannot have the drug, it means they will not pay for it. Often, the drug they want you to get costs you more, but the insurance company less. It is unlikely the insurance company is looking out for your welfare more than you and your doctor are. They have investors to satisfy and high-salaried vice-presidents to pay. By paying cash, you save money unless your medical costs exceed your deductible for the year, then sometimes you pay nothing. But paying nothing for a $10 drug in December that you paid $20 for for the first 11 months of the year means you are still contributing $110 to your insurance company's profits.

Watch this video to see why you might want to pay cash.

Using a service like GoodRx can help you to quickly find the lowest cash price. You may or may not be able to pay the GoodRx price and get the credit towards your yearly out-of-pocket maximum.


"GoodRx gathers current prices and discounts to help you find the lowest cost pharmacy for your prescriptions. The average GoodRx customer saves $355 a year on their prescriptions.
GoodRx is 100% free. No personal information required."


"We use third-party advertising companies to serve ads when you visit the GoodRx website or use the GoodRx app. These companies may use information (not including your name, address email address or telephone number) about your visits to this and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. GoodRx adheres to Digital Advertising Alliance principles."

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