insurance insanity, pharmacies

Highway Robbery

I recently had a patient ask me to change his medication for his insomnia.  He had been using it on an intermittent, as needed basis with no problem, so I was surprised and asked him why he wanted to change.  He responded that he didn’t want to, since it worked fine.  However the price for the medication was going up from $10 a month to $85.   He showed me what his insurance company had sent him:

His company “helpfully” suggested an alternative.  Just to be clear- trazodone is in no way a similar drug to temazepam.  They are not in the same class of medications, and have different efficacies and side effects.

Now, I was surprised that temazepam, a drug that has been generic for quite a while, was so expensive.  So I decided to find out what the retail cost was.  Sure enough, you can get a month’s supply at Costco for $9.33.

What could possibly be the excuse for this?  I understand that a store like Costco might use cheap prescriptions as a loss leader for people to shop there (although anyone can use their pharmacy, you don’t need to be a member).  However, I would like to point out that UnitedHealthcare Insurance Company had a 2012 profit of $5.1 billion.  That’s $5.1 billion.  Just wanted to make sure you got that.

Most of us have noticed that our insurance premiums have gone up quite a bit this year.  That’s why this stings even more- it appears that some insurance companies are actually profiting off of our medication expenses.

As for my patient, I kept him on his temazepam, and told him to fill the prescription at CostCo and to pay cash.

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