Same Prescription, Different Prescription Prices. Can that Be Right?
Continuing Series: Questions from Consumers …
There is a lot of confusion around the topic of retail prescription prices. For example, why the exact same prescription can vary in price depending on the state and city you live in, the day on which you purchase and the pharmacy or drugstore you use, even if they are located on the same block or next to each other. Before answering this question, here are a few key facts.
- 145 million Americans suffer from a chronic illness that’s 6 in 10 adults.
- At least 70% of Americans take one prescription medication.
- More than 50% of Americans are on two or more prescription medicines.
The reasons cited for the varying prescription costs are usually focused on the “greedy pharmaceutical companies”, the drugstores and pharmacies and, of course, the government. However the factors that actually do contribute to these fluctuations are:
Cost of doing business
What a business must spend to stay in business is often influenced by where they are doing business, and how the local economy is trending. Add to that, the cost to the store, to purchase the medication from a manufacturer or distributor. This will influence the cost to consumers and will contribute to the flux in pricing by day, location and store.
Supply and demand
For example, consider that at the height of the flu season more people are going to be seeking out either the vaccine or other helpful prescription medicines like Tamiflu. This demand plays a factor on the cost of these drugs. As well, given this year a bad pollen season is predicted, we will most likely see the prices of prescription allergy medicines go up. So, more people needing or wanting specific medications drives demand, which impacts the availability of the drug, which then drives the cost change.
Negotiations between insurance companies and pharmacies
People with insurance, who don’t have flat (i.e., have varying) co-pays on their prescriptions, find that their costs go up and down as well. This is due in part to the reasons cited above but also, to the fact that their insurance company renegotiates with pharmacies.
This is just a broad stroke to get the conversation started. The complex network and the diversity of factors that contribute to what consumers end up paying for, whether generic or brand medicines, is a conversation that we hope to explore in this on-going multi-part series. According to several articles by medical professionals, “much more could be done to deal with the unregulated prescription drug prices pharmaceutical manufacturers are allowed to charge, and to establish fair and reasonable reimbursement costs for new medications.”
If you are on prescribed medications for any condition, and you need help affording your prescriptions, download a free Watertree Health Prescription Discount Card or request your card be mailed to you. It provides significant discounts on almost all recommended medications (brand and generic). Most experts agree, taking your medicines as prescribed improves overall health and wellbeing and lowers cost of health care for everyone.
Reference: Consumer Reports, medcohealth.com, The True Cost of Healthcare, CDC, Kevin MD, NYTimes
Instructions and Disclaimer: The content on this website is designed for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses. Always consult your health care provider with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your health.
Do you lack the energy to get through the day,? Have you put on a few pounds but not been overeating? Has your voice been slowly weakening? Does the cold weather now bother you? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, it is very possible that you have the early symptoms of hypothyroidism, also known as under-active thyroid disease.
What is Hypothyroidism?
Hypothyroidism is a fairly common disorder in which the thyroid gland under produces the thyroid hormone. These hormones are produced and scattered all across your body. They help regulate your metabolism and energy levels. Low levels of thyroid hormones can affect your entire body. It starts with energy loss, but may lead to more serious problems in the future if left untreated.
Symptoms of Hypothyroidism
Symptoms can be difficult to identify because they snowball over time. The more serious, long-lasting problems may include some of the following:
- Skin Rashes
- Constipation and Digestion Problems
- Weight Gain
- Menstruation Problems
- Temperature Sensitivity
- Lowered Heart Rate
- Goiter Growth (Also partially due to iodine deficiency)
- Carpal Tunnel
- Decreased Muscle Mass
- Difficulty Maintaining Proper Eating Habits
- Swollen Tongue
Some conditions, like jaundice, may be very serious, especially if they are present in young children. Many of these symptoms can be related to other problems. Your doctor will need to order a blood test to determine if it’s hypothyroidism.
Hypothyroidism is most frequently caused by Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. This is an autoimmune disorder where your body produces antibodies that assault the thyroid gland. Over time, thyroid hormone production gradually decreases.
There are a variety of other causes, which include iodine insufficiency, thyroid surgery, some psychiatric and cancer medications, radiation therapy, and more. Anything that affects your iodine level, like radioactive iodine treatments, can reduce hormone production because iodine is used to create the chemicals.
If you have developed hypothyroidism, you will need medication to elevate your iodine levels to speed up hormone production. In the meantime, you will likely be prescribed a synthetic hormone. The medication you take will depend on whether you are taking other medications, which can sometimes interfere with the synthetic hormones. Luckily, hypothyroidism may be easily treated, but you will need to work with your doctor to ensure your hormone levels remain normal long-term.
Remember, if you or someone you know needs help affording their prescriptions, click on the “Get Your Free Card” link or text CARD to 95577. The card is available to everyone at any time. For more information about how the free Prescription Discount Card works, check out our video: wtree.us/video .
You can also look up your prescription savings with our card using the wtree.us/SavingsTool. Simply look up savings by drug name and zip code to find the best price at a pharmacy near you.
Instructions and Disclaimer: The content on this website is designed for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses. Always consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your health.
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New Year’s Resolution: Cut Out All “Bad” Sugar
By Shane Power, President of Watertree Health
For 2019, I have set the goal of cutting out all unhealthy sugar from my diet—namely refined sugar and high fructose corn syrup. If you’ve ever had a meal with me previously, it was most likely followed by dessert. Most of my friends and family know my weakness for sweets. When my sweet tooth kicks in, I’d find myself reaching for the closest snack, which was often jammed with unhealthy sweeteners.
I decided to make this my New Year’s resolution because consuming “bad” sugars can be detrimental to your health. They can cause health conditions like weight gain, heart disease, diabetes, increased risk of cancer, and much more. Refined sugars can also dramatically affect your energy levels because they cause your insulin levels to spike. I think we’ve all experienced this—the crashes after eating foods full of refined sugar.
This month, I’ve been researching “bad” sugars, as well as replacements. In the process, I slowly started using less refined sugars. I’ve had a chance to try raw coconut sugar in my coffee and was pleasantly surprised by its taste—it’s very similar to brown sugar. And, now if I shop for already prepared foods, I check the ingredient list to make sure that cane sugar or corn fructose syrup are not included. I’ve learned that refined sugar is not always listed as “sugar.” Here are a few sneaky names that might be used: dextran, maltose, sucrose, lactose, galactose, and dextrose. I also found this list of “good” sweeteners that was published by Farm Cut:
- Maple Syrup
- Wild Honey
- Raw Coconut Sugar
Whatever goal you set as your New Year’s resolution, be committed to yourself. Change will only occur through determination and persistence. Take me for example; I’ve already tried some delicious food with “good” sweeteners, and I’m excited to have my cake and eat it, too. Just remember, the key to living a healthier life starts with you.
Winning at the Resolutions Game
By Shane Power, President of Watertree Health, and Lisa Chau, Communications Manager of Watertree Health…
By now, many of you have decided this will be the year you get healthy by losing weight, exercising more, stopping smoking or maybe following your prescription schedule. You will make conscious choices to modify your current behavior by eating more vegetables, visiting the gym regularly, and adopting other healthy habits to live longer and more active lives.
Some changes are more difficult than others. Here are some tips to help you make resolutions and keep them beyond January:
- Create a long-term strategy with benchmarks and clear objectives. It’s great to say you are going to eat healthier starting this year, but it’s unlikely you’ll switch from a mainly fast food diet to all salads all the time. Every week, try switching a sugary dessert for a healthier option, like fruit – with this method, your transition will feel more like a lifestyle change instead of a joyless punishment. Substitute soda with naturally flavored seltzer. Cultivate habits while reaching for an ultimate goal
- Be realistic because the human capacity to make more than one change at a time is low. You won’t turn into a totally different human being overnight. If you get winded jogging around the block, you can’t reasonably expect to run a marathon after three weeks of training. You will be dejected because you made grandiose plans – you’ll set yourself up for failure. Instead, make small, gradual changes so your resolutions are sustainable. Walk a mile, then two. Build up to jogging, then eventually finishing a marathon.
- Be flexible and forgiving. If you had a particularly stressful week at work and gave into the temptation of a few extra snacks, don’t let that completely derail you. Show yourself some compassion for faltering, and then get back on track next week. Humans fail and personal growth is healthy – this is part of the process. Don’t quit because you stumbled one week in the grand scheme of an entire year.
Author of The Marshmallow Test and noted psychologist Walter suggests making implementation plans with uncomplicated if-then terms, which seem simple but have been proven to be “astonishingly effective.” For example, “If I am at the diner and I want a milkshake, then I will order an iced tea instead.”
New Year’s resolutions shouldn’t make you miserable—it’s about self-improvement. Think of creative ways to stay on track and reward yourself while maintaining accountability. Best wishes for better health in 2019!
Co-authored with Shane Power, President of Watertree Health, where Lisa works in communication and business development.