How I Saved A Bunch Of Money By Leaving CVS For A Locally Owned Pharmacy

Image courtesy of (zipsonic)

Comparison shopping can save you a lot of money, and the difference can be dramatic in the case of prescription drugs. Susan ventured to CVS to fill her first prescriptions after leaving her former employer’s insurance, and was shocked to see that a medication she was used to paying a $10 copay for would cost $54.99 out of her own wallet. This certainly isn’t the biggest prescription sticker shock we’ve ever heard of (or experienced ourselves) but it did motivate Susan to shop around. That’s when she learned that loyalty to a pharmacy doesn’t really pay all that much. She left CVS behind, and now her bank account and her soul are much happier.

In April I went to my local CVS which my previous employer had used for in-network medicine provider. This was my first time purchasing my meds as a self-pay. I was floored when this one common prescription was $54.99. I picked it up at the drive thru and I asked the older portly man if he was sure the price was right. Previously all 3 of my meds were under $10 and this time it was over $100. Oh well, I figured just one of the many things I needed to learn about self-pay.

I went back in July was astounded to see such a sharp change in price down to $18.50. Then I went comparison shopping and learned two of my meds were on Wal-mart’s 90 days for $10 list (not the Zolpidem) but Zolpidem was seriously cheaper than CVS. So giving the independent a chance, I learned they were even better than Wal-mart on all three perscriptions, $9.30 for the other two and Zolpidem $10.40 at Realo.

So if my independent could make money selling at this price, what the heck CVS? I sent them a letter with a photo copy of all 3 receipts and asked for compensation for being obviously overcharged in April. I’m going to assume it was the store manager, told me on a phone call a few days after I sent the letter that, “Some of our employees know to scan a discount card for our self-pay customers and some don’t.” I replied “So, I’m out money because your employee doesn’t know your procedures.” To which she replied “There’s nothing I can.” And I finished “Well, I can. I’m leaving for your competitor.”

Hurray for capitalism! Different suppliers and generic drug manufacturers’ deals with pharmacies mean that drug prices vary a lot. If you’re self-paying at the pharmacy and no one offers you a discount card, ask. If the store doesn’t have one handy for all customers to use, they can probably tell you where to obtain a discount card of your own.

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