MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — In this day of ever rising health care costs, we sure do not want to pay out more than we have to, which is why it is worth your time to review your prescription costs. In the case of a Twin Cities man, three little words cost him a bunch of extra money.
Blaine Herdegen is one of an estimated 20 million Americans with hypothyroidism, a condition that affects metabolism. An inexpensive pill, taken once a day, keeps him healthy. However, when he recently ordered a refill, the pills became considerably more expensive.
“To me, they seemed like the exact same tablets I was always getting,” said Herdegen. “Yet, when I got my invoice that accompanied it, the charge was about six times higher.”
Invoices from MEDCO, the mail order pharmacy, showed that Herdegen’s co-pay of $10.20 for a 90 day supply suddenly jumped to over $66.
His doctor had been prescribing a generic drug. However, when he retired, another doctor from the clinic refilled the prescription. The new doctor wrote “dispense as prescribed” and requested a brand name drug.
“They have to fill it as the doctor ordered,” Herdegen said. “They are not allowed to substitute.”
The labels on both bottles say the drug is manufactured by the same company, Abbott Laboratories. Both labels say Synthroid, which is Abbott’s brand name for the drug. However, the cheaper bottle of pills also says L-Thyroxine on the label, which is Synthroid’s generic name.
It pays to know that MEDCO does have a money-saving search tool on its website where one can find a Synthroid generic for the $10 Blaine once paid. But, a doctor must rewrite the prescription for Blaine to reap the savings in the future.
“Otherwise, (the company told me), I’ll continue to be billed at a higher rate,” said Herdegen.
After a few phone conversations, MEDCO did eventually credit Herdegan’s account for the cost difference between the brand name drug and the generic. He did point out, however, if he had received the brand-name version to start with, he never would have questioned the higher charges.
So, it is worth asking your doctor if an effective, less costly generic medication is available for your prescriptions.
WCCO-TV’s Dennis Douda Reports