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Prescription Drug cost absurdities

There are an awful lot of things wrong with the medical care system in the US, some of which may be repaired by Congress this year. One of the oddest things is the variation of prices for drugs. In the AARP magazine they published the following data for the purchase of 30 days of 80 mg Simvastatin (an anti-cholesterol drug - a pretty high dose at that) somewhere in CA:

$7.71 at Costco
$24.36 at WalMart
$63.59 at CVS
$89.99 at Walgreens

Also $145-$213 for Zocor - same drug - but since the patent ran out several years ago it is available in generic form.

What other kind of products are there with such price variability? The Walgreens price was almost 12 times the Costco price.

To add to this mess there are several other "statins" that are not available in Generic form and some are even more expensive. There is little clinical evidence that any one is better than another or that any have more or fewer possible side-effects although for some people it may well make a difference.

What people or their insurance pay is a whole other piece of confusion to this can of worms.

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Another thing that baffles me about the insurance industry specifically is the concept of enrollment periods. I don't know of any other product that says you have to buy one thing, you're stuck with it and can't change your mind, period, until a year later.

For Medicare supplemental, they said you couldn't change your mind EVER.

What kind of product is that in a capitalist market?

I don't know of any other product that says you have to buy one thing, you're stuck with it and can't change your mind, period, until a year later.

Cell phone service?

Good point. At least with cell phone service, you could buy in whenever you want; they didn't have these bizarre "enrollment periods" of a couple of months, outside of which you're SOL. What is that?

And even with this phraseology, I'm making it sound like the cellphone contract customer is by comparison lucky. My head is spinning.

Which leads me to ask the question: "why do folks seem to look down on you when you're smart enough to shop Costco?"

I think one reason is that some people tend to buy stuff that they didn't really need/want in large quantities because it is so cheap.

Ah, you got that right!

I'm on that (and at that dosage). As for "all the statins seem to be the same" Zocor was the only drug that seemed to have an effect. For me, this is nothing new, my cluster headaches do not respond AT ALL to Imitrex, but are completely handled by Maxalt.

Fortunately, my coverage covers Simvastatin, but at the $50 co-pay. Sigh.

BTW Target's pharmacy is AWESOME. Unlike CVS they don't make mistakes (wrong pills, wrong number of pills), and unlike Rite-Aid they don't lose your data constantly. They also contact YOU when your refill is ready, and automatically contact your PCP for renewals. Plus their $4 set of drugs has lots of the "regular" generics. Our outlay for prescriptions was pretty much halved when we switched from mail-order to Target.

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