Are you paying too much for your drugs while on the road

Most of us find the roving, on-the-road RV Lifestyle exciting and fulfilling. But we do give up some of the advantages of living in a permanent or seasonal location. For instance, we cannot take our pharmacist along with us on our trips. Why, you might ask, would we want to do that?

One reason, as pointed out in an article by Bloomberg Business News on Friday, Feb. 24th,
is the gag rule that the pharmaceutical industry has imposed on pharmacists. This rule prohibits your pharmacist “from volunteering the fact that for many cheap, generic medicines, co-pays sometimes are more expensive than if patients simply pay out of pocket and bypass insurance. The extra money – what the industry calls a clawback – ends up with the benefit companies,” writes the author of the Bloomberg article.

Legal cases are building up against the practice of “clawbacks” (Cigna, UnitedHealth, and Humana face at least 16 lawsuits) but it may take years of delays and congressional debate before anything is done to correct this fleecing of the public. But that doesn’t explain why you would need to have your pharmacist overseeing your drug purchasing from myriad drugstores located along your travel routes.

There is a simple, but not perfect, temporary answer. Your home town druggist knows you and your family, has likely been providing your prescriptions for years, and values you as a loyal customer. If you were to ask him/her about different options for your prescriptions he would be obligated to tell you the truth, and likely would, sacrificing the small extra profit for your loyalty.

But on-the-road, where the druggist does not know you, not so much. However, if you directly ask the druggist for pricing outside of your insurance coverage, it may astound you that the cost for you to just pay for the drug, and not buy through your drug insurance coverage (and paying a co-payment), you could actually pay less (see graphic below).

clawbacks

Over a period of time, this could add up to a few tankfuls of fuel or a few nights stay in a campground. Remember that you have no obligation to enrich your insurance company, the drug-benefit managers, or the pharmaceutical companies on clawbacks that offer you – the customer – no benefit whatsoever.

So remember. When you purchase drugs on the road, ask the pharmacist for the non-insurance coverage price. And watch for more information as resistance to clawbacks becomes more widespread, then voice your disapproval.

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