By Theo Thimou
It’s usually taken on faith by health care consumers that you can save big money on prescriptions when using your insurance company’s mail-order pharmacy program. But there are some instances where it’s a heck of a lot of cheaper to pay cash for a medication at the pharmacy counter, rather than to order it through your insurer’s pharmacy benefits manager program. PBS News Hour recently ran a piece that spotlighted the story of one woman and her husband who were going on a trip and needed to stockpile a 90-day supply of telmisartan. The woman was prescribed the drug to control her blood pressure after a mini-stroke about two years ago. The husband tried to order the generic drug through Express Scripts, the pharmacy benefits manager (PBM) that also provided a mail-order service for their insurer Anthem. But here’s the rub: The couple had paid $285 for a 90-day supply of the drug about a month earlier. Because 90 days hadn’t passed, Express Scripts refused to sell an additional 90-day supply to the couple.