The Best Prescription Drug Prices for Generic Drugs and Part D Enrollment

It is a known fact that many senior citizens delay their Medicare Part D enrollment. This is particularly true for people that require only generic drugs. The expectation is that you may buy them quite inexpensively at low-priced outlets (such as Costco and Walmart), and save on insurance premiums. It’ll be interesting to know whether delay in Part D enrollment is justifiable by comparing the prescription drug prices using discount pharmacies with similar prices from Medicare Part D vendors. The mail order costs will be used for Part D. They are less expensive – you will be charged for 2 months and will get 3 months of supply.

Prescription drug prices for five generic drugs

The recent Consumer Report study Same generic drug, many prices provides prescription drug prices on a month’s supply of five blockbuster drugs that recently become available as generic drugs. The study found a huge difference (447 percent) between the lowest (like Costco) and highest (Target, CVS, Rite Aid) pharmacy outlets.

The tables below uses data from that study. They were compiled with the full cost (cost to buy drugs at an out-of-network pharmacy) for the same drugs from several Medicare Part D insurance vendors with the lowest mail order costs.  All expenses are on a monthly basis.  Part D data are from the zip code 19096.

Pioglitazone Hcl – Generic for Actose (30 mg) – Monthly Costs

Retail Pharmacies Medicare Prescription Drug Plans (PDPs) – Mail Order Pharmacy
Costco Sam’s Club Walmart Walgreens Humana Walmart Preferred Rx Plan AARP MedicareRx Saver Plus Cigna Medicare Rx Plan One
$101 $140 $160 $158 $18.63 $98.57 $127.07

 

Escitalopram Oxalate – Generic for Lexapro (20 mg) – Monthly Costs

Retail Pharmacies Medicare Prescription Drug Plans (PDPs)  – Mail Order Pharmacy
Costco Sam’s Club Walmart Walgreens Humana Walmart Preferred Rx Plan AARP MedicareRx Saver Plus Cigna Medicare Rx Plan One
$7 $87 $84 $105 $9.94 $25.55 $17.43

 

Atorvastatin Calcium – Generic for Lipitor (20 mg) – Monthly Costs

Retail Pharmacies Medicare Prescription Drug Plans (PDPs)  – Mail Order Pharmacy
Costco Sam’s Club Walmart Walgreens Humana Walmart Preferred Rx Plan AARP MedicareRx Saver Plus Cigna Medicare Rx Plan One
$17 $56 $68 $65 $19.47 $12.73 $18.51

 

Clopidogrel – Generic for Plavix (75 mg) – Monthly Costs

Retail Pharmacies Medicare Prescription Drug Plans (PDPs)  – Mail Order Pharmacy
Costco Sam’s Club Walmart Walgreens Humana Walmart Preferred Rx Plan AARP MedicareRx Saver Plus Cigna Medicare Rx Plan One
$15 $48 $58 $50 $12.30 $8.35 $15.59

 

Montelucast Sodium – Generic for Singulair (10 mg) – Monthly Costs

Retail Pharmacies Medicare Prescription Drug Plans (PDPs)  – Mail Order Pharmacy
Costco Sam’s Club Walmart Walgreens Humana Walmart Preferred Rx Plan AARP MedicareRx Saver Plus Cigna Medicare Rx Plan One
$27 $47 $57 $55 $20.99 $27.09 $18.62

 

As you can see, the full cost expenses using Medicare Part D plans are, in general, lower than retail pharmacy costs. But there are exceptions. For the lowest pharmacies, such as Costco, the prices are similar and, often, even below.

Total monthly expenses and Part D enrollment

Naturally, comparisons should be made, not with full costs, but with actual costs spent by Part D members. These costs include the following components: premium, deductible, initial coverage copayment, and coverage gap costs. The Part D plans used above are very different in those components. Nevertheless, by using tools such as the Medicare Plan Finder you will get an estimate of the total expenses. The table below shows total expenses for the hypothetical person with all five mentioned above generic drugs in his/her drug list.

Retail Pharmacies Medicare Prescription Drug Plans (PDPs)  – Mail Order Pharmacy
Costco Sam’s Club Walmart Walgreens Humana Walmart Preferred Rx Plan AARP MedicareRx Saver Plus Cigna Medicare Rx Plan One
$167 $376 $426 $433 $49.13 $64.08 $78.18

 

The insurance vendors’ mail order pharmacy costs include all out of pocket expenses: premium, deductible and copayments. And the costs are below those of retail pharmacies, even if you compare them with Costco – the least expensive of them all. Therefore, there are clear benefits of enrolling in Medicare Part D as soon as possible. The fact that you need to pay penalties for delaying Part D enrollment only enforces our conclusion.

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