Published August 23rd, 2019 by Stephanie
America is one of the greatest countries on Earth, but when it comes to the cost of medical treatments, medicines, and other life-saving drugs, the country is also one of the most expensive on the planet. For about 30% of the population, making over $100,000 a year, this may not be so much of an issue, since those households are more likely to be able to afford medical care and medicine regardless of the cost. For the rest of us, however, that fall in that remaining 70% of the country, paying out an average of $1200 per year on medicine is going to be a significant part of the household budget, and one that most people wouldn’t mind getting lower.
Fortunately, savvy Americans can do this, though it means putting in a bit of extra effort. If you want to pay lower prices on medicine and other important drugs, one way to do it is through drug price comparison. Here’s how and why.
As the name drug price comparison implies, the idea behind this is simple but requires effort. Instead of simply going to a pharmacy and paying whatever price you see on the shelf, you set some time aside and do research. Many Americans don’t realize this, but the pricing on drugs and other medicines is not standardized across the board. For example, while a dose of insulin may cost about $300 in the USA, it costs only $30 in Canada! And there’s no difference in the quality of the insulin! So why is there such a huge price difference?
In the case of insulin, this is an extreme scenario. The Canadian government has strict laws in place that require drugs to be affordable. In the USA, the government prefers to let companies do what they feel is right for their investors and bottom line, so the pharmaceutical companies can charge whatever they like.
What this means for the average American is that pricing on medicine and other drugs is wildly inconsistent, and may depend entirely on the business calculations a particular pharmacy has done, where they determine what is the maximum price they can set for a drug in a certain area, or situation, and still make a sale.
So what you pay for the medicine at one pharmacy may not be the same price you would pay at another. The basis of smart drug price comparison is being willing to hold off on buying medicine and taking the time to look at your options and see where the best prices are.
This can be accomplished in a few different ways.
One of the biggest factors that can affect the pricing of drugs is the location of the pharmacy itself. After all, these are businesses that are interested in making a profit and ensuring that products move from the shelves. If you live in an affluent neighborhood, for example, the market research for a pharmacy, especially a larger chain with a sizable finance department, will know the average salary of residents in that area and understand they have the disposable income to pay premium prices. As a result, residents of that area will almost assuredly pay more for their medicine but may be too affluent to care, as the proximity and convenience will outweigh any pricing concerns.
On the other hand, those same prices would be out of reach for a pharmacy located in a lower-income neighborhood. The pharmacy’s parent company will not want stock sitting on the shelves, not being bought by anyone, because no one can afford to pay the prices. So for people who live in these less affluent areas—or those willing to travel the extra distance—prices will be lower.
This is why one of the most effective drug price comparison techniques is to compare according to location. Those willing to travel a bit further than their nearest pharmaceutical outlet may be rewarded with lower prices.
Another important area where you can look to more friendly drug price comparison is sometimes the independent, or “mom n’ pop” pharmacy versus the larger, nationwide, retail chains. Big national chains are, due to their size, strictly regimented and regulated. They’ll receive orders from a home office about what to price their medicine, and they’ll stick to that policy.
Independents, on the other hand, can price their medicine, drugs, and prescriptions at whatever price they see fit. They want to remain profitable, but when the owner of the pharmacy also happens to be the pharmacist that is serving you, you’re speaking directly to the decision maker that sets prices. That can sometimes lead to better, more competitive pricing.
With the advent of the digital information age that is the 21st century, another major point for comparison is shopping online. This makes a lot of sense of shoppers willing to put in the time to research and compare, and that is for one simple reason; lack of “overheads.”
In a typical, physical, “brick and mortar” pharmacy that is an actual building you visit, there are many costs associated with maintaining that physical space that contribute to the price of a drug. Paying electrical bills, heating, water, the salary of the employees, cleaning the building, and other associated costs are all built into the decision-making process that puts a price on your medicine or prescription. Much of that can be done away with when you deal with strictly online pharmacies that don’t have any the financial burdens of maintaining a storefront, and that can result in lower prices.
Finally, you can save yourself some work by centralizing your price differences all in one place. If you get a prescription discount card from the USA Rx website, for example, you can enjoy anywhere from 10%-75% off on various drugs and medicine, and this discount card is recognized in over 60,000 pharmaceutical outlets across all 50 states of the USA. It’s a fast, convenient way to get lower prices that doesn’t require extensive homework, but still provides some of the benefits.