A $50 price hike at a pharmacy benefit manager may seem like a small price to you, but to a lot of patients it can be a big deal.
You can use a drug at a discount, buy a prescription drug for a lower price, or even save money on your prescription drugs.
But how much can you save on your medications?
The short answer is: you don’t.
In fact, a new study finds that, on average, pharmacy benefit managers are paying $1,100 more for prescriptions per person than Medicare does.
The study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, was based on a database of over 1.3 million pharmacy benefit plans, which are the largest in the United States.
In a statement, pharmacy benefits manager representatives say that the prices of prescription drugs are based on the generic drugs being sold, not the brand name drugs.
They point out that generic drugs are cheaper than brand name ones, so they can make more money.
“We’re not able to provide discounts or savings on medications,” says Dan Kahan, the CEO of the National Association of Pharmacy Benefit Managers.
“That’s a fact of life, and it’s not a question of how much we can charge.”
“The reason why we don’t offer discounts or discounts on generic drugs is because they’re not covered under Medicare,” says David L. Cogdell, CEO of American Pharmacists Association, a trade group that represents the nation’s pharmacy benefit associations.
He says the government requires companies to cover prescription drugs, but doesn’t make it mandatory for them to cover generic drugs.
That means if a drug is cheaper than the brand-name drug, the pharmacy benefit program could be able to pay more for it.
This could mean you’re paying twice as much for the same prescription drugs as you do for a brand name drug, he says.
“You don’t have to make up for the difference in prices, and you don.
We want you to have access to these drugs, and we want you as patients to have a healthy lifestyle,” says Cog, adding that pharmacies could charge you up to $20 for the drugs.
“If you’re looking at these prices, it’s really easy to go to your doctor for a checkup,” he adds.
This is especially true for people with preexisting conditions who would be able do more than just pay for the drug, but could also get free care.
“It’s not necessarily a cost-effective option,” says John Schuessler, a health economist at the University of Washington who co-authored the study.
Schuissler points out that people who have preexisted conditions are often more likely to need expensive medications that cost more than generic drugs, so that’s why a generic drug might be more valuable to them than a brand-Name drug.
“Preexisting condition patients who do have pree x conditions are the people that are really going to be paying the price for this,” he says, adding, “If they can afford a generic, they’re going to pay the cost of the drug.
The savings that they’re getting are pretty minimal.”
A spokesperson for the National Federation of State Boards of Pharmacies, the trade group for state pharmacy benefit programs, says that, while the study isn’t specifically comparing brand- and generic-name drugs, the association does not encourage the use of generic drugs when considering the price.
The organization says that in the past, it has recommended that generic medications be covered under the same Medicare and Medicaid plans that its brand-names are, but it says that has not always been the case.
“There’s a lot more variation in the prescription drug pricing than you would expect, and so it’s hard to say if that’s the right answer,” says Kevin B. Balsamo, a vice president at the National Center for Health Statistics.
“And in terms of how that varies across different states, I’m not sure that we have a whole lot of data on that.”
The authors of the study found that the average pharmacy benefit plan has been paying over $2,500 per patient for prescriptions over the last three years.
“A lot of people are not even aware of the fact that their pharmacy benefit benefits are paying these very high prices,” says Kahan.
The authors also found that, for people who do not have preexes, the cost for a generic is about $50 less per year than the price of a brand.
“These prices can be significant for people, especially if you’re someone who’s not in a preexistent condition,” says Balsamos.
“I think that’s a problem.
You need to be aware of how high these prices are and try to find the savings that you can.”
The study also found, though, that a large portion of the pharmacies that were participating in the study were using generics. For people