NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Nine out of ten Americans now have health care coverage, but that doesn’t mean they can afford their medication.
With the rising cost of drugs, many say they’re forced to choose between their prescriptions and other necessities like food or rent.
However, as CBS2’s Dr. Max Gomez explained, there are new ways to save, and you can even get some medicines for free.
Phillip Lambert needs his insulin, but when his monthly cost hit $1,800 he considered skipping it, a potentially deadly decision.
“I thought it was ridiculous,” he said.
Lambert is far from alone. Nearly half of all prescribed medications never make it past the pharmacy counter because consumers simply can’t afford them.
“It’s really the only place in retail where you don’t know what the price is until you actually get to the counter and then they are shocked,” said Geoffrey Chaiken, Co-Founder of Blink Health.
Experts said it’s gotten worse over the last year with millions of Americans seeing a spike in their prescription drug prices, of anywhere from a few to more than hundreds of dollars per prescription.
It’s caused some to take matters into their own hands.
“They pill split, or they take it every other day. That has tremendous human cost because those patients aren’t getting the medications they need,” he said.
But there are options.
Chaiken founded Blink Health with his brother Matthew. It’s a whole new approach to giving consumers a way to buy prescription drugs at heavily discounted prices whether you have insurance or not.
“We have prices on over 15,000 medications, 50 percent of those drugs cost less than ten bucks,” he said.
It’s simple to use, just search for your prescribed medication, pay for it online, and pick it up at the pharmacy. If your co-pay is lower they’ll even refund your purchase.
“We’re accepted at over 60,000 pharmacies nationwide. That includes Walmart, Walgreens, CVS, basically everywhere,” he said.
To reduce his monthly insulin cost from $1,800 Phillip qualified for a federal program called 340B. His insulin now costs him just $34.
There are also discount cards offered by both drug manufacturers and pharmacies at stores like Walgreens and K-Mart.
“In particular we have 10 prescriptions, medications that our members can get for $3 a month,” Phil Keough said.
There are also a number of websites and apps that help you comparison shop in your neighborhood.
You can even get free prescriptions at Sam’s Club if you’re a member.