One of the greatest health care market failures is price transparency. This extends into prescription drug pricing for consumers who are still in the deductible phase of their health plan pharmacy benefit. You can easily visit several large retail pharmacy outlets online and get the price for a variety of adult sex toys sold on their websites, but no pricing for brand name prescription drugs.
Many people have health plans that necessitate they meet a pharmacy deductible before the individual receives the benefits of a set copayment amount for prescription drugs. For some people, the deductible can be as high as $6,500 before there is any insurance help in paying for prescription medication.
For consumers who have to pay the full retail price of their prescription drugs, one would think that doing comparative shopping between pharmacies online would be easy. It is not easy to compare the retail price for brand name medications between pharmacies. If you call the health plan, they have no clue how much the drugs cost before the copay benefit is triggered. While some pharmacies may tease people with low generic drug prices, there is no pricing for brand name drug medications.
Comparing Brand Name Drug Prices
My grand plan was to find the over-the-counter prices from the nation’s largest retail pharmacies for the top 10 most prescribed and costliest prescription medications. I was hoping to show people which pharmacies may have the best prices when a consumer must pay the full retail pharmacy price before their health insurance begins to help out. I reviewed the websites of the following pharmacy departments online.
The only way I could get brand name drug prices was if I created an account and logged into the pharmacy’s system. Even then without a prescription for the drug you still may not be able to get a price.
What I learned is that retail pricing, for the purposes of comparison shopping for brand name drugs, is virtually impossible. However, for three pharmacies – CVS, Rite-Aid, and Walgreens – they list the retail prices for a variety adult sex toys. Yes, you read that correctly. Some of the nation’s largest retail pharmacy chain stores also offer adult sex toys online. Of course, they like to refer to this section of their websites as ‘sexual health’ as if the products were no different from cough medicine, adult diapers, or vitamins.
I have no problem with these pharmacies running online porn shops. But if they can give the retail price for dildos, vibrators, and prostate massagers, you would think they could advertise their retail price for Abilify, Advair Diskus, Enbrel, Humira, Lantus Solostar, Remicade, or Sovaldi. These are some of the top selling brand name drugs people rely on every day to maintain their health.
Pharmacy Prices For Sex Toys Online
In lieu of brand name prescription drug price comparisons, here are some of the prices for some ‘sexual health’ adult toys common to the websites I surveyed. (Website review undertaken in July of 2017. Prices for your favorite products may change due to demand and new product additions…and there are more sex toys listed than generic drugs for sale by these pharmacies.)
CVS: Pump Worx Beginners Power Pump With C-ring for $17.99 (Buy 1, Get 50% off sitewide),
Rite-Aid: Pump Worx Silicone Pump Clear for $29.99
Walgreens: Pump Worx Beginners Power Pump for $12.99
The Mini Vibro Tease Massager in pink from California Exotic Novelties is $14.49 at CVS and $14.99 from Rite-Aid. Walgreens didn’t carry the Mini Vibro Tease, but they have a similar product called the Booty Call Booty Rocket in pink, from California Exotic Novelties for $10.49, reduced from $14.99 – it’s probably discounted to make room for the new 2018 models.
As an added public service, these pharmacies allow consumers to post customer reviews of the sex toys. One consumer testified that,
I didn’t know what to expect from this product, but I can surely say it is my new favorite accessory. Powerful vibrations and multiple pulse options make this booty rocket a 10 in my book. Plus, the LED on the end is an added bonus.
Don’t you wish pharmacies would post consumer reviews of prescription medications and what they experienced and the side effects?
Several pharmacies offer discount drug programs for people without health insurance. Of course, you have to pay an annual fee to enjoy the reduced prices. And, the discounts plans don’t work with health insurance.
From the Costco website on their discount drug plan FAQ:
May I use the program to assist with my prescription purchases during the period in which I am satisfying my deductible?
No. During the period of your deductible, any prescription medication that would otherwise be covered by your insurance if you were outside the deductible would not be available under the program.
Walgreen’s Drug Plan
Q: If I already have insurance but want my uncovered drugs to be filled under the Prescription Savings Club, would the Club be considered secondary insurance?
A: The Prescription Savings Club cannot be used in conjunction with other prescription drug insurance or discount cards on any one purchase. If the Prescription Savings Club has a lower price on your medication than your insurance or co-pay, you can use the Club in place of your insurance. Of course, you can always use the Club to purchase prescriptions that are not covered by your insurance. Having other prescription drug coverage does not disqualify you from enrolling in the Prescription Savings Club unless it is a publicly funded health care program.
If you have health insurance, but you purchase drugs through one of these programs, the cost of the drugs will not accumulate toward satisfying any pharmacy or medical deductible, or meeting the health plans maximum out-of-pocket amount. In other words, people can get really screwed by using these pharmacy drug programs. This is all an obvious attempt to force people to pay the highest price for brand name medications when they have health insurance.
Essentially, if you have health insurance, and you have not met your pharmacy deductible, you will pay the full over-the-counter price from most chain pharmacies. The retail pharmacy industry has put a black-out on advertising brand name prescription drug prices in an effort to stop consumers from price shopping. The obfuscation of drug prices borders on anti-competitive industry collusion.
To the credit of Walmart, they have posted the prices of their generic drugs without having to login or join a discount pharmacy plan. From all indications, these generic drug prices are good whether or not the consumer has health insurance. But you won’t find any sex toys on the Walmart website, if you were looking for such products.
It’s bad enough that most members of health plans cannot get a straight forward price quote for health care services. For people with high deductible plans, the ability to shop for the best price will drive down the cost of health care. It is simple economics involving consumer information and choice. The pharmacies are no different than the health plans and health care providers. They refuse to make it easy for consumers shop for the best price for their prescription medications.
You know our health care delivery and support system is screwed up in America when it is easier to get the price of a dildo than the cost of a lifesaving drug.