highly variable blood pressure, lower your blood pressure with food, two pills

Generic drugs are supposed to save consumers money. After all, the generic manufacturer did not have to pay for the research proving the medicine works. But many people have found that prices are rising even on these supposedly cheap drugs. One reader found a way to save money, but it requires two pills instead of one. To follow this example, consumers will have to get familiar with the fine print on their prescription drug coverage.

Could Two Pills Ever Be Cheaper Than One?

Q. I have been on the blood pressure medicine quinapril/HCTZ for many years. Last year, I switched health care providers and the cost went from $8.00 to $10.00 per month.

That is the only prescribed medicine that I take, so the bump wasn’t too big a deal. However, this year it went from $10 to $15, a 50 percent increase. I contacted the insurer and was told that both quinapril and HCTZ are Tier 1, so they have $0 co-pay. Combined in a single pill, however, the drug becomes Tier 2 which has a $15 co-pay.

When I have to refill this prescription, I will ask the doctor to write two scrips, one for each medicine. Then I will be taking two pills, but I won’t have any copay.

A. Thank you for pointing out how important it is to learn what tier your medicines occupy. This can make an enormous difference in your monthly drug bill. Your solution to get your medication into Tier 1 by splitting it into its component two pills is clever. Others might have similar success, but they will need to do their homework to learn the particulars of their insurance coverage.

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  1. Catherine

    I have taken a combination pill of Valsartan and HCTZ for years. I got on Medicare last year and found out that Medicare drug plans won’t reimburse for combination medications. My doctor’s office wrote me two prescriptions, one for each medication, and it was even cheaper than before. Of course, right now, I’ve had to switch to Losartan instead of Valsartan, but same situation.

  2. Mary

    I keep seeing references to saving money by buying prescriptions through Canada yet I find no Canadian site that says they can legally ship to the US. So what are you all doing? Making drug runs across the border and then not declaring them?

  3. Larry
    North Carolina

    Another “1 for 2” example:
    The wife takes Estratest. It comes in two doses, one twice the potency of the other. The wife takes the lower dose. It comes in tablet form (not capsule, caplet, or liquid).

    The higher dose is MUCH less expensive per GoodRX. At my urging, she asked her physician if it was okay to split the larger tablets. Upon getting assent, she asked for a prescription for the larger dose.

    It’s now costing much less than half what it would otherwise cost!

  4. BBBob
    Amherst, NY

    It definitely pays to stay informed regarding one’s prescriptions, both as to cost and also to be sure that you continue to receive the correct (intended) prescription.

    In my case, similar to the first writer’s message, I had been taking Irbesartan/HCTZ for many years, when, the HMO announced it would double the copay for my three prescriptions in 2016. While not a budget killer, I felt that paying $400 per year for the cheapest Tier 1 generics was unnecessary. Also, changes to the HMO’s Medicare Plan would add another $1,600 to our combined premiums. (My wife takes no prescriptions.) After shopping the various plans in October 2015, we selected another HMO/PPO, which not only provided my medications for $0 copay, but dropped both our premiums to $0, plus erasing another $168 annual charge previously paid to the first HMO.

    Recently, intending to add Amlodipine to my Irbesartan prescription, the doctor ordered a “combination pill” of Valsartan and Amlodipine, which the pharmacist advised would cost $100 for a 90 day supply. I phoned the HMO which confirmed the price, but the representative was smart enough to suggest that I continue to get the Irbesartan/HTZ as ONE pill and the Amlodipine as a separate pill, both of which they would supply for a $0 copy. A quick phone call to the doctor was all that it took to make the correction, which he informed me was his original intention.

    In the 2-1/2 years that we have been with the “new” HMO/PPO, my doctor has added one and adjusted one prescription, all five of which continue to be supplied at $0 copay.

    The combined saving over the former HMO’s plan was over $2,000 in the first year, alone, with excellent service and delivery to boot. Vigilance pays, especially when one has a fixed income.

  5. carol

    When you take two medications at once, if you have a reaction you would not know which of the medicines was the problem.

  6. Cindy

    I must take 2 horse-sized capsules instead of one small tablet in order to not pay exorbitant prices. (All are generic.) It is ridiculous when traveling. I really do not understand how insurance companies can dictate our health treatment. Of course, it is all due to greed. (Hubby retired from a well-known pharmaceutical company, and he agrees that it is more about profits than patients.)

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