When it was time to fill a prescription, we stood at the pharmacy counter helpless, waiting for the pharmacist to tell us how much our medication would cost. We hoped for a reasonable price, and prayed that insurance would work this time around. Our doctors wanted to help, but they usually didn’t have much more information than we did.
Today, America’s healthcare system still faces major challenges, but we have a new weapon on our side : information.
Armed with prices and savings information provided by GoodRx, Americans have now saved more than $10 billion — yes, billion — on their healthcare. In all, more than 100 million Americans have used GoodRx to find affordable healthcare solutions.
It hasn’t always been easy.
When Trevor, Scott, Billy, Elizabeth, and I first set out to find what a prescription should cost, we were met with confusion and pessimism. A senior pharmaceutical executive told us we were wasting our time — pharma sets prices for brands, and nobody cared about generic drugs. (Fun fact: Generics make up 90% of the 4 billion prescriptions sold in this country every year.) A high-ranking government official told us that the Affordable Care Act would soon cover all patient costs and there’d be no need to shop around. Fourteen states had laws that required state-operated websites to post drug prices; more than half of those sites simply didn’t work, and the others were out of date.
I remember the morning I asked my friendly neighborhood pharmacist (who also owned the pharmacy ) how she had determined the price for my Lipitor. Was it demand? Insurance rates? A set markup? She paused, and then said, “I honestly don’t know. I just charge whatever the computer shows.”
We were lucky enough to find a few experts who truly understood the arcane way that healthcare prices are set in this country. We also received support and encouragement from people often labeled as the “bad guys”: major pharmacies and insurance companies. They were aware that charging hundreds of dollars for a drug would anger consumers (and lead to that prescription being abandoned at the pharmacy counter), but they were constrained by complex insurance contracts and government regulations. We asked lots of questions, took notes, and tried to figure out a better way.
Okay, but what about America?
After about a year of soaking up information (we’re still learning!), we finally put up a website and mobile app. We believed that if we could make shopping for healthcare as easy to understand as shopping for a car or a plane ticket, it just might work.
But, before people would use GoodRx to shop around for the best price, they had to learn that shopping around for healthcare was even possible. At the time (2011), most people had commercial insurance or Medicare/Medicaid, and most of the discussion was about how to get insurance coverage. Pretty much everyone assumed that the copay for all drugs was $10 (they’re not), and that virtually all drugs were covered by insurance (they’re not). I had dozens of awkward conversations with friends and family where I tried to explain that a little bit of legwork might actually result in real savings.
As it turned out, we had allies we didn’t even know. America’s 800,000 doctors and millions of healthcare workers were keenly aware of the rising cost of prescriptions. Increasingly, their patients were not taking the drugs they had been prescribed. On top of that, those patients would complain to their doctors for writing such expensive prescriptions in the first place. We began to hear from physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, clinic workers, office staff, and even pharmacists who wanted to help their patients, but lacked the tools and information to do so. At a hospital in Queens, New York, some nurses even put my cellphone number on a wall and called me throughout the day and night, asking for coupons and savings tips for patients who were about to be discharged. It was a thrill to be able to help.
Today, one third of U.S. doctors recommend GoodRx to their patients, and 99% of U.S. doctors have a patient who has used GoodRx.
As I write this, GoodRx features billions of accurate prices, copays, discounts and savings tips for every FDA-approved drug at pharmacies across America. We work closely with America’s leading pharmacy chains, as well as insurance companies, manufacturers, doctors, and anyone else who can help us drive down the cost of healthcare.
We’ve made it much easier for people to maintain their health and not end up back at a doctor’s office or hospital ER. We’ve made it less stressful for parents to provide for their kids.
But, we’re far from done. Prescription drug spending represents about 10% of our nation’s $3.5 trillion annual healthcare bill. We want to build more tools to reduce the cost of all healthcare, as well as create additional ways to ensure that Americans take their drugs as prescribed so that they don’t get even sicker.
Our goal remains the same : to help provide every American with access to affordable healthcare. We believe that we can reduce costs while improving access and quality.
We’re proud of our $10 billion, but I know that we’re just getting started. We will make affordable healthcare a reality.
Source: Read Full Article