Health Column: GoodRx, a great app for finding the cheapest prescription
MOHLER’S MEDICATION MAXIMS
Free Press Health Columnist
One of the real frustrations for health care consumers is the lack of transparency regarding what lab work, imaging studies and prescriptions cost. It is that frightening dream where you and your partner go to an upscale restaurant to celebrate, and you are handed a menu that has no prices. Or you are picking up your prescription for Gorillacillin at Your Favorite Pharmacy and the pharmacy tech croons, “That will be $164.99.”
Shop around! I have done “secret shopper” telephone surveys of pharmacies in the Grand Valley for 30 years. Tenfold differences in what local pharmacies charge for the same prescription are not uncommon. Calling several pharmacies about costs for your new prescription will save money. Although pharmacies have been consistently polite when I have called to check drug prices, the process is time consuming.
There are now a handful of apps to help cut your shopping time for finding the best deal on your prescription. My favorite is GoodRx. (No, I don’t own stock and more importantly, neither does Big Pharma.)
GoodRx is free, easy to use, and it offers money saving tips. It works with iPhones, iPod touch, iPads and Android compatible devices. You enter the drug name (either generic or branded), add the strength (typically in mg) and toggle in the quantity. The app will then search for drug stores by zip code or detect your location using GPS. You are then presented with a list of pharmacies rank ordered with the best price at the top of the list.
One significant downside to GoodRx is that it does not include local “mom and pop” pharmacies. This is a significant issue in our community where independent pharmacies like Palisade Pharmacy and Orchard Pharmacy have often been the most cost-effective alternatives.
My take: GoodRx can save you some time and money. Remember that prices quoted on the app can change. Prices are usually quoted for cash-paying customers and coupons that the site provides may create further savings. My approach would be to use the app to identify the best deal, call that pharmacy to confirm the price, and then check with Orchard and Palisade pharmacies. (No, I do not have any financial relationship with any pharmacy.)
Free Press health columnist Dr. Mohler has practiced family medicine in Grand Junction for 39 years. He has a particular interest in pharmaceutical education. Phil works part-time for Rocky Mountain Health Plans. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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