UToledo researchers: Insurance doesn’t always make drugs cheaper

Published: Sep. 18, 2023 at 10:22 AM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - New research from the University of Toledo found that a sizable amount of generic medications were actually cheaper without insurance.

The research, which was published earlier this month in Annals of Internal Medicine, highlights the value of pharmacy discount cards as a cost-saving resource.

Of the 20 commonly prescribed generic medications studied, 20% were less expensive through Amazon and 40% were less expensive through GoodRx.

“Prescription drugs can be expensive, but that’s not the whole story,” said Dr. Varun Vaidya, a professor of pharmacy practice and pharmacoeconomics researcher at UToledo. “Only about 10% of prescriptions are those expensive, brand-name drugs. The vast majority are generic drugs, but when consumers go through insurance, the entire process goes behind the curtain. It makes sense that people expect insurance should be the best route. However, this research proves patients are being put in an opaque, economically inefficient system where they often end up paying a lot more than they should have.”

Until reforms happen, Patel and Vaidya say many patients can lower the cost of their prescription medications by comparing prices through platforms like Amazon Prime and GoodRx.

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