Why do drug prices keep increasing?

By Nancy Coveleskie, CHMRx

From the June 2019 issue of Heartfelt Magazine.

Editor’s note: CHMRx is a prescription discount card available to all CHM members. Learn more or request a card at chmrx.com.

The CHMRx staff regularly receives calls from CHM members when they get a refill or purchase a new medication. They want to talk about the prices they’re charged.

There are several reasons why the price of an existing prescription can increase:

  • The pharmacy has entered information incorrectly. Be sure that the pharmacy staff is using the correct group of numbers from your CHMRx card. They are listed as:
    • CHMRx/Universal Rx card (cardstock card): Rx Plan Group#, Processor ID/Bin and PCN.
    • CHMRx/Agility card (plastic card): GRP No, Rx Bin and Rx PCN.

If they still have difficulty, please don’t leave the counter. Instead, politely ask them to call the Pharmacy Help Desk phone number listed on your card.

  • The medication’s price has increased for the pharmacy. The pharmacist may not know whether this has occurred, but if you call CHMRx Member Services at 877-403-8233, we may be able to research it for you.
  • The pharmacy no longer accepts the card. Though it doesn’t happen often, the card is sometimes not accepted at large national pharmacy chains. Re-shop your medication on our website (chmrx.com; “Pharmacy locator and drug pricing” tab) to see if there’s a better price at another local pharmacy. Of course, the best strategy is to compare prices on our website before going to the pharmacy.

 

Some reasons why a new prescription might cost more than you expect are:

  • You were prescribed a brand name medication and no meaningful discount exists at the retail level. If the name brand is the only medication that’s working for you, please go to the troubleshooting form on our website (chmrx.com/contact) and let us know the medication’s details (dosage, prescription number, etc.). Our mail-order service may be able to lower your cost.

Just because a medication is newer doesn’t mean it will be more effective. There may be a therapeutic class of medications that could be less expensive or even have a generic equivalent. Discuss this with your doctor and ask if you can try a lower-cost alternative. If they don’t know the cost difference and you have a smartphone, you can try looking it up on our website right in the doctor’s office.

  • Prices vary greatly from pharmacy to pharmacy. Each time you’re prescribed a different medication, be sure to shop online for the best price. You may need to purchase from more than one pharmacy. Always be sure to let your pharmacist know about all the medications you take. They’re responsible to ensure that you don’t suffer from improper drug interactions.
  • Prices vary due to the card you’re using. The reason we offer CHM members two cards is because we never know which will offer you the best discount. Again, try the pricing tools at chmrx.com and chmrx.org. If you’re stuck, just fill out the troubleshooting form and let us do the work for you. (Please allow several days for a response and price breakdown.)
  • Our drug pricing tool is wrong. Again, this rarely happens, but there are thousands of FDA-approved medications and over 67,000 pharmacies nationwide. Furthermore, drug prices sometimes change daily. Given these facts, it’s inevitable that our drug pricing tools are occasionally inaccurate. Please be sure to notify us if you find a large discrepancy. We will research and correct the price.

 

CHMRx saved members nearly $45 million last year and we’ll continue to pass along the savings. However, one of the best ways to save money on prescription drugs is to not need them! Living a healthy lifestyle that includes plenty of exercise, eating a balanced diet of whole foods and avoiding processed foods, drinking plenty of clean water and limiting use of electronic devices is the best line of defense against prescription cost increases.

Editor’s note: The CHMRx prescription savings card is administered by a third party, not CHM. CHM staff members will be unable to assist you with your CHMRx-related questions. You can reach CHMRx Member Services toll-free at
877-403-8233.

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