One of the more frustrating things about my job in the emergency department is the hurdles patients have to getting the care they need. Most often, these setbacks are financial. I can tell a patient they need physical therapy, but without insurance this probably won’t do the patient any good. Or, I can prescribe a much needed antibiotic to treat a resistant infection, but the patient may not be able to afford the medication.
Regardless of insurance status, medications can be expensive. Most of us as nurse practitioners prescribe the least expensive drugs possible for our patients, but sometimes costlier medications are simply the only option. Even for patients with health insurance, these drugs can be budget-breakers costing hundreds of dollars.
The most frustrating thing about drug costs is a lack of uniformity. Filling a prescription for Zocor, for example, costs $6.40 at Costco without insurance, while other retail competitors charge as high as $60 for the popular cholesterol medication. With insurance, on a typical plan Zocor would cost about $15 depending on the copay. So, the best bet for patients taking Zocor would be to purchase the medication at Costco without using their insurance plan.
Deciphering drug costs is confusing, not to mention time consuming. Thankfully, a new app is here to help. GoodRx is the first prescription price comparison tool that pulls data from every pharmacy in the United States. Think of GoodRx as the Travelocity or Expedia of prescription medications. Not only does the site compare prices, it offers coupons for many drugs further increasing savings. For instance, in the above example, Zocor would cost just $3.50 by mail order from Costco with a GoodRx coupon.
Personally, I use GoodRx frequently in my practice. For example, when a patient presents with an infection resistant to less expensive antibiotics, I am able to prescribe a costlier medication at an affordable price. I quickly print a coupon from the GoodRx website so the patient can easily get the necessary drug at a significant discount. This prevents the hassle of pharmacy call backs when the patient tries to fill an unaffordable medication and most importantly ensures that patients are getting the treatment they need.
GoodRx coupons and drug pricing information can be found online or, downloaded as a free app. The site and app are user-friendly and will undoubtedly help you and your patients save on prescription medications.