Say What? How Much Do Prescription Drugs Cost Without Insurance?

doctor holding a piggy bank

It’s no secret that healthcare in America is a mess. As of 2018, 27.5 million people, or 8.5% of the American population, don’t have health insurance. Recent legislation proposals only cast further doubt on the future of healthcare for many.

If you don’t have health insurance, visiting a doctor or health practitioner may be out of the question. But what if you have a preexisting condition that you need medication for? How much do prescription drugs cost without insurance?

Keep reading for a guide that will break down the cost of prescription medication for you, as well as how you can make it cheaper. 

How Much Do Prescription Drugs Cost Without Insurance? 

Out of all the developed and industrialized nations of the world, the United States spends more than all of them on prescription drugs. Much of this comes from individual drugs costing so much more. 

For example, Humira is a drug that many patients take to help treat conditions such as arthritis. Many patients spend around $20,000 a year on Humira, while patients in countries such as Switzerland have access to it for a fraction of the cost.

Likewise, if you suffer from severe allergic reactions, you may have an EpiPen. The cost of EpiPen has grown exponentially in recent years, and patients without insurance can expect to pay around $650 now.

On the other hand, people in Canada can get an EpiPen for around $100. This puts Americans at a huge financial disadvantage, requiring them to pay an exorbitant amount of money for potentially life-saving treatment.

Pharmaceutical companies know that many patients don’t have a choice when it comes to purchasing prescription drugs. This means that they can jack up the prices without fear of people buying their medication from other outlets. 

Understand How the Right Health Insurance Plan Can Help

To some extent, health insurance can help make the costs more manageable, or at the very least, affordable. 

Most insurance plans provide coverage for essential or life-saving drugs. While the amount that you pay will vary from plan to plan, most will help cover the costs to some degree. Provided you have a medical reason for needing the drug, you should be able to save money.

How much you save depends on whether or not your plan covers the required drug. It also depends on your annual deductible, as well as whether or not your insurance company has a deal with the drug manufacturer. 

Under the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, healthcare became an option for many, previously uninsured Americans. Check the HealthCare.gov website to see if you qualify for coverage. 

How to Reduce Prescription Costs

If you don’t qualify for Obamacare and don’t have access to any other insurance plans, don’t worry. There are some other steps you can take to cut down on the cost of quality prescription drugs. 

1. Consult With Your Doctor

The first thing you need to do is make an appointment with your primary care physician. Be honest about what you can and can’t afford, and they’ll be able to advise you on your best course of action.

In some cases, this might mean prescribing you a different drug dosage. For example, if you need a 10-milligram pill, but 10-milligram pills cost twice as much as 20-milligram ones, they may prescribe you the latter and instruct you to split the pill in half.

2. Use Generic Versions 

Another common, doctor-approved way to reduce prescription costs is to use the generic version of a drug.

If your doctor writes you a prescription for a name-brand drug, inquire about whether or not there’s a generic version. By being transparent and telling them that you’re uninsured, they’ll further understand your predicament and work with you to find the cheapest option.

Your doctor might also be able to find a cheaper version of the drug. It might come with some minor side effects, but your savings can be substantial.

3. Find Discounts 

If the price your doctor or pharmacy provides is out of the question, consider shopping at a community charity pharmacy. These are non-profit sponsored organizations that offer discounted medications to uninsured members of the community.  

You can also investigate whether or not you qualify for a patient assistance program. Pharmaceutical companies run these programs for low-income individuals. Most of the time, you’ll have to prove that you’re either uninsured, or that your current plan doesn’t provide coverage. 

4. Shop Around

Aside from looking for discounts, make sure to shop around at different outlets before committing to buying from a particular pharmacy or source. 

For example, many people are starting to order medication online. This makes it easier to find a pharmacy with the lowest prices. Many sites compare the costs of prescription drugs from different sources, ensuring that you shop at the pharmacy with the lowest costs. 

If you’re able to travel, buying medication in foreign countries can also be a viable option. As mentioned, many countries offer the same drugs for much lower prices. Try to find a pharmacy that operates in a foreign country, such as Canada, that can then ship the needed drugs to you for a discounted rate. 

A Difficult Problem for Many

How much do prescription drugs cost without insurance? Too much. If you’re struggling to afford the medication you need, know that you’re not alone. Follow some of the tips mentioned in this guide, and you should be able to cut down on the cost substantially. 

Do you have a better idea of how much some of the most common prescription drugs cost? If you do, make sure to check out some of our other articles for more helpful guides and tips.  

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