Inhalers help prevent and control asthma symptoms. Unfortunately, like other prescription drugs and medications in the US, the cost of asthma inhalers remains high. Patients often need insurance or plenty of disposable income to seek great deals and bargains. But even with a high-deductible plan, the popular asthma inhalers can cost beyond $500 every month.
Read on to understand why asthma inhalers are expensive and how you can afford them.
Asthma is generally an expensive health condition for many Americans. Based on a survey, the estimated annual medical cost of asthma per person can go around $3, 266 and 56.03% of that is for prescriptions. Although insurance can help lower the impact of these sky-high costs, many patients end up paying higher copays. Others also find their medications are not covered.
But that was not always the case. The available inhalers up until 2005 were much more affordable. However, they contained chlorofluorocarbons (CFC), a greenhouse gas known to destroy the ozone layer. It didn’t become a problem until the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the ban on asthma inhalers that contain CFC in 2008.
The CFC-based inhalers were replaced with a new variety of inhalers containing hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) beginning in 2009. Because of this, manufacturers were able to add entirely new patent protection to their products, allowing them to obtain market exclusivity.
The prices for popular inhaled asthma medicines have increased dramatically since the CFC ban. Yet, even several years after the new inhalers arrived, they haven’t shown any indicator of dropping down.
The total costs of unaffordable inhalers and other asthma medications can vary from one person to another. You’ll find that some of the prices can be less costly while others can be unreasonable for you. But in case you’re struggling to afford them, here are some ways that can help you lower their costs.
If you have an insurance plan, it’s the first thing you should check before purchasing any inhaled asthma medicine. Look into the formulary or the list of prescriptions that are covered by your plan. See to it that the inhaler prescribed by your doctor is included and that you can afford the copayment.
In case the prescription is not covered by your insurance, there are multiple inhalers on the market today. So, don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor and ask for other options your insurance plan covers. However, it’s worth noting that you can often get a better price if you don’t use your insurance at all.
Using prescription discount coupons can also help you lower out-of-pocket costs for asthma inhalers. It can be a viable option, especially if your prescription is excluded from the formulary list or you have exceeded your insurance plan’s maximum coverage. Other times, your copayment may also be higher than the retail price of the inhaler.
You might be able to save up a lot on your asthma inhalers if you use a prescription discount coupon. For instance, you can save up to 80% if you get a Symbicort coupon for refills. But note that you can’t combine prescription discount coupons with insurance benefits. So make sure to show the coupon to the pharmacist first and see how much you can save.
As patents of CFC-free inhalers expire, the number of generic asthma inhalers has also been increasing. But they are less known for many, especially for those who have been using asthma inhalers before the approval of their generic equivalents. By law, generic versions should contain the same active ingredients as the brand-name inhalers.
Thus, generic asthma inhalers typically work the same way as brand-name ones, and they are much cheaper. But doses and design might be different, though. That’s why you should ask for a new prescription from your doctor if you’re planning to switch to a generic inhaler.
Many pharmaceutical manufacturers have set up prescription assistance programs to make asthma medications more accessible at a highly discounted price. Eligibility requirements vary for every program, but most of them may require proof of income.
Note that these programs are specifically designed for low-income individuals and families. Those that make less than 400% to 500% of the annual Federal Poverty Level (FPL) can qualify, depending on the manufacturer or program.
Not all pharmacies charge the same amount for the same medication, even if you have insurance. The prices of asthma inhalers may vary, especially between large chain pharmacies and smaller independent pharmacies. If you want to lower the cost of your asthma medications, it would be best to shop around various pharmacies. You can use online apps to find the best price at a pharmacy near you easily.
Taking your medications is important to manage your asthma. But, while it seems easier to skip your prescriptions or not fill them, you can put your health at risk. So, if you find yourself struggling to afford your asthma inhalers or other medications, remember that there’s available assistance out there if you need one.