How To Fill A 120-Day Prescription For 1/5th Of The Regular Price

Here’s a potential way to get certain drug prescriptions filled cheaply—as in, a several-month supply for less than $15—from our own Consumerist reader and commenter Hambriq. He posted it last week and we thought it was worth bringing to the foreground for more readers to see.

Here’s a tip about pharmacies; we all have a minimum price that we charge for prescription drugs. It doesn’t matter how cheap the drug is. The drug could cost less than a penny, and we would still charge that minimum fee. At my pharmacy, that fee is $10.99. At most pharmacies, the fee is comparable as well.

We do this for two reasons. One, it’s illegal for an insurance company to charge you more than the store price for a prescription drug. Most insurance companies have a $10 copay for generics. So, when you get your 30 hydrocholorthiazide or atenolols, the insurance company can charge you $10.00, even though the actual price of the drug is closer to $2.00. This is because the pharmacy would charge you $10.99, so the insurance company gets away with charging you “less” that what we would charge you.

Secondly, it’s done to recoup losses in other areas, like theft, loss, damages, and non-reimbursement. Our friendly way of passing the charges on to you.

So this has two implications. One, most of those $4.00 generics are drugs that actually cost less than $4.00 for a thirty day supply. Two, there’s a crafty way to get around the price increase.

First things first: make sure your drug is actually cheap. If you’re getting ANYTHING that’s a brand name, it’s not cheap. Most anti-depressants aren’t cheap. A few that are: Generic Xanax, Ativan, and Valium (alprazolam, lorazepam, diazepam). Generic Vicodin. Lower strength lisinopril (and anything that ends with -pril, for the most part.) Hydrochlorothiazide. Levothyroxine. Atenolol.

Then, tell your doctor to write your prescription for 90 or 100 pills at a time, rather than 30. Then, tell your pharmacy that you don’t want to file the drug on your insurance. We’ll give you the cash price of the drug, and because you’re getting so many, you probably won’t end up paying the minimum charge. 120 hydrochlorothiazide costs 12.04. 30 costs 10.99, which translates out to a 10.00 copay on mosts insurances.

The best part is, there’s nothing illegal about this. You’re not committing fraud or being even the slightest bit immoral. You’re just beating the system.

Thanks, Hambriq! And we have no idea whether or not this will work for your specific meds at your specific pharmacy, so good luck.

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.