For many people who need prescription drugs, high prices present huge road blocks. However, an app might help save money.
Some Americans put their lives at risk simply because they cannot afford the drugs they need. In fact, 14 percent of the 1,100 people surveyed by Consumer Reports said they've skipped a dose. Fourteen percent said they took expired medications, and 17 percent said they did not get refills.
“A lot of people who buy their medications, they have to cut back in groceries, they have to cut back on bills. It affects their personal finances,” said Brad Bangerter, president of LowestMed.
He said the smartphone app, LowestMed, might save consumers money, whether or not they have insurance.
“We have negotiated discount prices with 60,000 pharmacies nationwide,” he said.
Regulators don't set prices for prescription drugs in the U.S., he said, so prices can vary wildly from pharmacy to pharmacy. LowestMed allows consumers to enter the name of a drug then the app compares prices at nearby pharmacies.
We checked a popular thyroid drug that turned out to have a lowest price of $4 — less than even most co-pays.
“I could pay $19, $20, $21 and $22 for that drug. So this is a savings of around $200 for the year,” Bangerter explained.
The variation was even more dramatic with an expensive drug used to treat blood clots.
“You can pay $321 for that drug or you can pay $680 for that drug,” Bangerter said.
He admits that's a drastic example. On the average, he said consumers save about $35 on brand name prescriptions, and $15 on generics.
The app is free and does not require users to give personal information to qualify. Once they find the lowest price, users click on the app's discount code button.
“It will show the discount that goes to the pharmacist. They load those codes into their computer and you get an immediate savings,” Bangerter said.
He said the app can save money for people whether or not they have insurance. Many plans have high deductibles, or simply don't cover the needed medications.
“If you’re paying out-of-pocket costs because you have a deductible, or you have a high co-payment, simply take the best price and use it,” he said.
The app can be downloaded from the Apple, Google Play and Windows stores