Health Insurance Matters: Compare & Save or Rx

Health Insurance Matters / Harry P. Thal

All insurance plans are not created equally. This is especially true for individuals and families covered by either a family plan or one provided by their employer.

Many people when selecting a plan offering will look at the monthly premium, and pick a plan that is lower in cost, having the health plan for large emergencies, and self-funding the small stuff.

Unfortunately, many people get “sticker shock” when they go to fill a prescription. Those tiny little pills, or that little bottle of eye drops can gobble up the weeks grocery budget in an instant.

When faced with this dilemma, many people are forced to either not fill a prescription, or they modify the recommended dosed to stretch the medication further than it was prescribed to be. Usually not a good idea.

There is a website which I regularly check. While the information they provide does not use the services of our local pharmacies, there is great savings possibilities at the larger chain pharmacies. For people with no prescription coverage or a deductible before coverage can begin, this is a major find.

Just like booking for a hotel or airline this website compares the cost of medication between different retailers. Instead of the same room sold by different websites, this is the same medication sold by different stores.
A few examples (prices may vary in this example from our local outlets).

Levothyroxine Sodium ($22.29) Walmart $9.00 Generic for Synthroid
Fluoxetine ($20.92) Walmart $4.00 Generic for Prozac
Gabapentin ($100.25) Vons Pharmacy $11.15 with coupon Generic for Neurontin
Zolpidem ($54.19) Vons Pharmacy $8.19 with coupon Generic for Ambien
Venlafaxine ($160.97) Save Mart Pharmacy $17.33 with coupon Generic for Effexor XR

The best part of the service is that the information is free as are the coupons. Check out your medications at

In most cases, if you have good prescription coverage, the co-pays for your medication will probably be less than the discounts and coupons. However, if your medications throw you into the Medicare “donut hole”, can be a cost saving alternative.

Harry P. Thal, MA, is a licensed insurance broker in California (0621106) and 24 other states. His offices are in Kernville. He is a member of the Society of Certified Senior Advisors and Past-President of the Kern Association of Health Underwriters. He may be reached at 760-376-2100, e-mail or visit him on the web at