Washington, DC - The rising cost of prescription drug prices – even on traditionally low-cost generics – is taking a toll on many consumers’ wallets. According to a new nationally representative poll from Consumer Reports, one-third of consumers who currently take a prescription medication said they paid higher drug prices at the pharmacy, paying on average an extra $39 for their prescriptions. And, one in 10 reported paying a $100 or more out-of-pocket.
And of those who told Consumer Reports they paid higher drug costs, nearly three-quarters said that during the last year they economized in other ways in order to afford their medications, including spending less at the grocery store, increasing credit card usage and postponing payments of other bills.
“These cost hikes don’t leave people with many options: they either pay for the drug or walk away and don’t get it,” said Lisa Gill, prescription drug editor at Consumer Reports. “Consumers shouldn’t have to choose between taking medication and going grocery shopping.”
To help consumers make smart health choices and save money, Consumer Reports has released the latest version of its prescription drug guide, Best Drugs for Less, for free, in English and Spanish, at CRBestDrugsforLess.org.
Consumer Reports found that consumers who reported drug increases experienced greater difficulty in paying for other medical care, too. They were also more than twice as likely to avoid seeing their doctor or to put off having a medical procedure than those who were not confronted with higher drug costs.
Consumer Reports encourages consumers who are faced with higher drug prices to find ways to save on prescription drugs, and found that some are already doing so. A quarter of respondents said they called their insurance company to see if it would cover a greater percentage of the cost or asked doctor or pharmacist to have their prescription switched to a lower-cost medication. And, 17 percent said they shopped around at other pharmacies for a lower price.
Although the prices of some generic drugs are going up, they can cost up to 95 percent less than their brand name versions. Yet Consumer Reports’ poll found that four out of 10 people said their doctor sometimes or never recommends generics over brand-name drugs.
Now in its sixth edition, Best Drugs for Less, lays out strategies for economizing on prescription drugs. Consumer Reports’ free e-pub provides information about prescription and over-the-counter drugs for all types of health conditions including allergies, depression, insomnia, hypertension, and more. It also features advice on where to find the cheapest medicines, how to read drug labels, and more. Best Drugs for Less relies on a panel of doctors to provide trusted information about nearly 650 medications.
Some additional ways consumers can save on prescription drugs include the following:
Patients should ask their doctors or pharmacists if lower-cost or generic options are available. And, make sure the prescribed drug is covered by insurance. If not, ask the doctor to prescribe a different drug listed on the formulary.
Shop around. It can pay to comparison shop. Try independents and chain pharmacies and see which one offers the best price on the drug needed. Also, consider calling pharmacies out of metro areas because prices can sometimes be less expensive at ones located in suburban and rural areas.
Ask for the lowest price possible. Consumer Reports’ secret shoppers have found that doing so can save consumers lots of money whether or not they are paying for the prescription medication through insurance or out of pocket.
About Consumer Reports
Consumer Reports is the world’s largest and most trusted nonprofit, consumer organization working to improve the lives of consumers by driving marketplace change. Founded in 1936, Consumer Reports has achieved substantial gains for consumers on health reform, food and product safety, financial reform, and other issues. The organization has advanced important policies to cut hospital-acquired infections, prohibit predatory lending practices and combat dangerous toxins in food. Consumer Reports tests and rates thousands of products and services in its 50-plus labs, state-of-the-art auto test center and consumer research center. Consumers Union, a division of Consumer Reports, works for pro-consumer laws and regulations in Washington, D.C., the states, and in the marketplace. With more than eight million subscribers to its flagship magazine, website and other publications, Consumer Reports accepts no advertising, payment or other support from the companies whose products it evaluates.