It's often cheaper to pay cash for your prescriptions rather than the co-pay, but the pharmacy is legally prohibited from suggesting it

America's health care is totally screwed up, Part Ten Gazillion: in many cases, the medicines your doctor prescribes are cheaper than the co-pay your health insurance charges, which means that if you just buy the meds instead of charging them to insurance, you save money.

Which is terrible, but what's worse is that many states have laws that make it illegal for the pharmacist to volunteer this information unless you ask (the insurance companies' benefits mangers keep the profits from this arrangement, and they've successfully lobbied for gag rules that keep pharmacists from subverting it).

So remember: every time you bring an Rx to the pharmacy, ask whether you'd save money by paying cash.

Also remember: the US health insurance industry is not your friend and should be put to death and replaced by a single-payer system that will remove the profit motive from health care.

It's not a small problem. "Researchers analyzing 9.5 million Part D prescription claims reported in a letter in the Journal of the American Medical Association in March that a patient's copayment was higher than the cash price for nearly one in four drugs purchased in 2013," reports Kaiser Health News. "For 12 of the 20 most commonly prescribed drugs, patients overpaid by more than 33 percent." (On the other hand, benefits manager claim it's not that common of a practice, and it will depend on your pharmacist's contract.)

Ask Your Pharmacist About Paying for Your Prescriptions in Cash [Alicia Adamczyk/Lifehacker]

Philip Taylor