When Your Best Intentions Backfire

I have been taking allergy medication since 2008.  I take Cetirizine which is the generic version of Zyrtec for seasonal and other allergies.  Sometimes I also use a nasal spray when pollen is bad or I know I am going to be around dogs but I am going to focus on the general allergy meds today.  Since this is an over the counter medication I have not been able to utilize my Heath Savings Account to pay for it.  During my recent physical at my doctors office she wrote me a prescription for the Cetirizine which would mean I could use my HSA for payment.  Seems silly but that’s how the system works.

When I dropped the prescription at the pharmacy at first they were confused as it is an over the counter medication but when I explained that I wanted to use my HSA to pay for it they understood my reasoning.  I picked up the prescription the following day and was a little surprised by the price.  As I picked it up at the drive up window I was not in a place to question it but I did explore things further when I got home.  I paid $26.99 for a 30 day supply, using my HSA card as planned.  When I got home I decided to check on Amazon just to see what kind of pricing I might be able to find online.  And to my amazement I was able to find a supply for only $23.71, for 400 pills!  And it is Amazon Prime eligible so free shipping.  Are you serious?  That is an obscene difference in price!  The next time I was in the store I also looked at what I had been paying the in past.  I could buy a 60 day supply for $21.99.  I find it pretty ridiculous that the pricing is so different since I think they just pull a bottle from the shelf and put it in a prescription bottle with their label.  Anyways, let’s break that down per pill/day:

Prescription price per day: $0.90 using my HSA account
Amazon price per day: $0.059
Drugstore price per day: $0.37

Allergy Meds

No tax savings amount could even get me close to that pricing!  Even if I were to assume a 30% tax savings by using my HSA account, by purchasing through Amazon I am saving approx $208.23 per year.  Holy cow, that is a big difference!  Even based on what I was paying by picking it up off the shelf I will save approx $122 per year by purchasing through Amazon.  I really wish I had thought of buying them through Amazon earlier.  This is a good lesson on watching pricing and making sure that some of your regular every day items could be found elsewhere, such as on Amazon, for a fraction of the cost.

When Things Do Work Out

Just after working on my allergy med situation I also had my other medication switched over from the regular pharmacy to being mail-order with a 90 day supply.  It took a couple of months to get it straightened out because I had to get a new prescription written for a 90 day supply even though I had just had it renewed at my local pharmacy for a 30 day supply.  I finally got everything ironed out and I will actually have a little savings after making the switch.  Nothing significant but a savings none the less.

Regular 30 day supply through my local pharmacy: $19.98
Mail order 90 day supply: $56.33

Total savings: $3.61 every 3 months or $14.44 per year.  Nothing major but it is extra money that I don’t have to use out of my HSA.  Sometimes these things can be time consuming to take care of but to get a little cash savings it can be worth it.  Now I am wondering what other areas of my life I might be able to find additional savings.

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