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June 19th, 2007


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06:49 pm - chemicals for cheap
so wanna hear something interesting? now that i am among the ranks of the unwashed and uninsured, i get to actually find out what drugs cost. sertraline (generic zoloft) at brooks will run me about 150 bucks. at cvs it's around 120. at this place anthony's, it is TWENTY BUCKS. this is for a generic, remember, so there is no branding involved, the differences between the drug companies is entirely and solely a pricing difference, which means all the pharmacies can get them for approximately the same price (and large chains for even cheaper, probably, by volume discounts). it never even occurred to me until yesterday that different stores would price drugs differently. in hindsight, this is no stranger than different stores selling milk for different prices, but there is a vital difference: the (i am guessing) vast majority of drug purchasers are insured to some extent. if you have insurance and are only responsible for a copay, then it doesn't matter to you what the drugs actually cost. hence stores never advertising or posting prices. the people this matters to are a) uninsured, obviously, and b) insurance companies. when i used to fill my prescription at brooks, i was just paying my copay, but i was sticking blue cross with a 150 tab, whereas i could've just as easily gone to this anthony's place and charged blue cross just 20 bucks. do i care what my insurance company paid? not particularly. but would it effect the cost of insurance if everyone was buying their drugs at stores that charged 87% less? fuckin probably! would that go some way towards solving the universal coverage problem in this country? well i have no idea. i don't know what % of medical costs are from drugs, but it coudln't hurt. and this principle may apply to other things too. maybe we'd start going to cheaper doctors (or more expensive ones, if you think higher price = more skill. but who knows). as i said, it never even occurred to me that the same drugs would cost different amounts at different stores. it's the same copay everywhere, and nobody advertises or even posts their prices. but if you ask they'll give you the price; maybe we should all start asking. and maybe insurance companies should start giving a shit as well.
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Comments:


[User Picture]
From:miss_geek
Date:June 19th, 2007 11:00 pm (UTC)
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it is my guess that insurance companies pay a price far cheaper than what is charged to an uninsured person trying to buy the drugs... obviously i don't know that for sure, but i would imagine.
[User Picture]
From:purplehippos
Date:June 19th, 2007 11:58 pm (UTC)
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are you sure that's a legit pharmacy? daniel's on zoloft, and when we didn't have insurance for him we tried everywhere and couldn't find a prescription anywhere south of $80 for the month.

i'd be a bit wary that they were buying their drugs on street corners in canada for that price.

also as an fyi depending on your dosage (you may already be aware of this) - sertraline isn't a time released pill, which means if you're prescribed the 50mg dosage you can buy pills at the 100mg size and split them, taking half each day. the price for 30 pills of either dosage is nearly the same with the higher one being just a little more per pill, so it works out to cost you just over half as much over the course of the month to buy the higher dosage pills and split them.
[User Picture]
From:leyse
Date:June 20th, 2007 12:29 am (UTC)
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Anthony's Place sounds sketchy, but assuming it isn't:

speaking from years of uninsured goodness, here's the deal... insurance companies work out a price with doctors, surgeons, hospitals, pharmarcies, whatever. They're actually paying barely more than what the pharmacy buys the drugs for, or for what the surgery costs in materials, or what the visit should actually cost, or whatever it is you're doing. The doctors et all then pass on the price difference to the uninsured. So, for instance, with my wisdom teeth surgery, uninsured, it would have cost about 1700$, but my insurance company only paid $800. Amoxicillin, to use another example, 5$ copay plus $20 to the insurance, uninsured it cost me $40.

Sounds like something similar is going on with the generic Zoloft, but seriously, $20, even for a non name brand prescription, sounds totally sketch.
[User Picture]
From:kingnixon
Date:July 12th, 2007 06:58 am (UTC)
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generics of some things are like 5 bucks. generic zoloft is relatively new, i think, so generally more expensive still, but i dunno. maybe they are charging everyone the insurance price to undercut chain stores for the uninsured customers. or maybe they sold me poison.

that all sounds so backwards tho! if someone doesn't have insurance, they most likely are not going to be big spenders. why not charge them the 800 and insurance companies the 1700?
[User Picture]
From:danoot
Date:June 20th, 2007 09:32 am (UTC)
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one time, I had to buy zoloft, and I think it cost me $3.60.

I have no insurance.

My country is better than yours at medicine, I think.
[User Picture]
From:kingnixon
Date:July 12th, 2007 06:58 am (UTC)
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i don't wanna hear it, you dirty commie!
[User Picture]
From:ameadowlark
Date:June 20th, 2007 11:56 am (UTC)
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My old insurance company actually defaulted to generic drugs to cut costs. Also, if there wasn't a generic available I had to pay $40 rather than the $10 I paid for every other drug. This was still a copay, but I didn't have to pony up the full amount (for which I'm pretty grateful), and I think it's a turn in the right direction.

Health insurance is also expensive because people go to the doctor's for needless reasons, which is why I usually won't go until I have at least two different things to ask about. I don't know if my doctor prefers this, but, in theory at least, it helps take some strain off the system. This is along the lines of the theory that we should not be paying a flat copay, but instead, a percentage of what we require. This would lower premiums across the board and make people think twice before getting a pill for "restless leg syndrome" or whatever the latest ads tell us we're probably suffering from.

You might want to consider paying for health insurance out of pocket, especially with $150 prescriptions—last I looked into it, my insurance costs only about $400/mo, which is pretty cheap when you consider the medically necessary $12k tonsillectomy I had earlier this year and for which I didn't spend a cent. Also, I'd look to see if this Anthony's place is subsidized somehow (it sounds like it might be). I wouldn't be too worried about it being "sketchy" or illegal or anything, but it could be a non profit, like a planned parenthood but more general. I guess looking into it would just be for curiosity purposes, since it does seem like too good a deal to pass up, right?
[User Picture]
From:zombeer
Date:June 20th, 2007 07:32 pm (UTC)
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so is "Anthony's" a pharmacy that operates out of the back of some guy named Anthony's van?
From:lazycloud
Date:June 20th, 2007 11:30 pm (UTC)
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I get most of my drugs for free, thanks to Pete.
[User Picture]
From:kingnixon
Date:July 12th, 2007 06:53 am (UTC)
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you wouldn't believe the volume and variety of stuff that comes through this house.

you really need to come out here sometime riley. you'd love this place for all sorts of reasons

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