Cheaper meds may be available if you ask

Laws banning gag clauses on pharmacists benefits consumers

SAN ANTONIO – Although the cost of many prescription drugs continues to rise, consumers may be able to save money at the pharmacy  -- if they ask -- thanks to new laws banning gag clauses at the pharmacy.

A March 2018 study found that for about one out of five prescriptions, insurers required people to pay more using their insurance plan than if they paid the pharmacy's retail price.  

Why? Gag clauses prevented pharmacists from telling customers that a lower price may be available by not using their insurance.

But that's changed.   

After several states, including Texas, passed laws to curtail the practice, Congress passed and President Donald Trump signed bills into federal law ending gag clauses.

"We can actually help the consumer a whole lot more," said pharmacist William Stroud. "For example, a lady came in for an antibiotic ointment. We filled it, ran it through her insurance. (It) was $192. Put it through for the cash price and it was just $15. So, all that saving went into her pocket."

Still, it's up to the consumer to ask for a possible lower price.  

Experts advise that when you fill a prescription you ask if it is the lowest price for the medication.

Consumer Reports suggested other ways to be money smart with meds:

  • Make sure you still really need the medication.
  • Take generics if possible.
  • Request a 90-day supply to save on co-pays.

Check websites like Needymeds.org, goodrx.com and blinkhealth.com for discounts and coupons. 

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