$4 generic prescriptions: a bargain or just sleight of hand?

3 thoughts on “$4 generic prescriptions: a bargain or just sleight of hand?”

  1. VERY true. But where was this $4.00 deal when I was a stay-at-home mom for 11 years and only had major medical? I got a job just to have decent health care coverage and rx coverage. I nearly died when I saw there was a $4- rx available. Unfortunately, I never had the pleasure of getting an rx for $4.00 back in the day- that would have been a god send for a family with only major medical coverage.

    I have not looked into it now because as I said, we have full medical and rx coverage and maybe I’ve turned into a pessimist because when I saw the advertisement for $4. rx, I knew there was a catch. I’m glad that you layed it all out here!

    Why can’t something just be real without a bunch of b.s. conditions in small print?

  2. As an employee at a store who sells the $4 drugs, I think I can be of service in answering questions. First off, most insurance companies today will not cover any of the $4 generics. Even if you submit your claim for amoxicillin to your insurance, your co-pay will still say $4. So most of the insurance companies have adjusted for this new price change. So, if last time you paid $1.52, then obviously it would be cheaper for you to run it through your insurance. However, most times if your insurance does cover it, it will only allow for 30 days at a time. So those 90 day scripts your doctor wrote for are useless, unless you want to pay the full cash price of $10. This is an inconvenience since you have to go back every 30 days to pick them up.

    Second, again most insurance companies will not cover OTC meds, unless you have Medicaid or Medicare. So, no matter what you have a prescription for it may be cheaper for you to buy it over the counter or pay the $4, depending on what is more expensive.

    Third, there is virtually no difference between brand and generic in today’s drug markets. The FDA keeps a close eye on the bioequivalence of generics and guarantees their safety and efficacy. The only thing you pay for with brand is the big pharma’s name on their product. Do yuoself a favor and go generic.

    Fourth, prices have not increased on non-$4 prescriptions. The idea of the $4 program is to help people without insurance and drive up store volume. Each pharmacy basically makes nothing off your $4 prescription. What they are banking on is that you use them for all your med needs, including the more expensive ones, out of convenience to you. Since you are getting your $4 scripts there, might as well make it easy on yourself and get ALL your scripts done there. And that’s where they make their money.

    The problem is that pharmacy’s like CVS and Walgreen’s have a hard time putting these programs in place because 70% of their gross profit is based off their pharmacy, whereas only 15% of wal-mart’s gross profit is based off pharmacy and the other 85% is off their entire store. So Wal-Mart can take a profit margin hit with some of the smaller $4 drugs in order to drive up their volume in the pharmacy and not see a big dip in their quarterly reports, like CVS or Wal-green’s would. Hope this helps.
    Thanks for the info. I hadn’t thought about the “driving up store volume” aspect, but it certainly makes sense. Personally I’ve always kept all my scripts at the same pharmacy (in my supermarket) for convenience and safety (catching adverse interactions, etc.).

... and that's my two cents