With the costs of drugs weighing down many of us patients, it is easy to as a patient to say “yes” to the pharmacist when they offer us the generic version of a medication. For many medications it makes sense to switch to a generic, for example, antibiotics. They typically are as effective and carry similar side effects as branded antibiotics.
Other medications, like those for cholesterol or mental disorders like schizophrenia, are carefully titrated and patients should think twice before switching to generics.
Many doctors will pro-actively discuss these issues with their patients so patients can make an educated decision as to which medications they can switch from branded to generic. While doctors have to conform to a standard of care, they are conflicted in their relationships with insurance companies. Most health insurance companies are requiring doctors to utilize generics below a certain threshold each year. If the doctor conforms to the recommended generic use, and does not “over-prescribe” branded medications, he may receive a bonus of a few hundred dollars at the end of the year. And believe it or not, many doctors, mostly primary care, are basing their decision to provide you with a generic on this extra end-of-year bonus.
As if worrying about your doctor’s intentions wasn’t enough, you also have to worry about your pharmacist. When your pharmacist offers you a generic alternative, they aren’t simply concerned about the impact of the drugs on your wallet. Pharmacists at most major chains receive financial incentives for switching patients from branded to generic at the checkout counter.
The best approach to saving money and making sure you are on the right medications is to find out which medications your insurance or Medicare D plan will cover and choosing plans based on the medication coverage you prefer. Additionally, discussing concerns with your doctor in combination with your own educated research can make a difference in the care you receive.
But what do you think? I would love to hear from you! I welcome your phone call on my toll-free cell at 1-866-889-6882 or you can drop me an e-mail at [email protected] . You are always welcome to request my FREE book, The Seven Deadly Mistakes of Malpractice Victims, at the home page of my website at www.protectingpatientrights.com.