How Much Does Medication Really Cost?

medication costs, medicine, health costs

Prescription drug prices have been a popular subject of discussion in the United States for many years. Actually seeing a doctor is expensive in itself, but the cost or maintaining your health doesn’t necessary stop once you leave the doctor’s office. The high prices of medication sometimes leaves people having to choose between purchasing the drugs they need to manage illnesses and food to keep them alive. I had a hard time identifying with these stories because after applying the benefits of my health insurance, the cost of prescription drugs has always seemed very reasonable.

I never knew exactly how expensive medication could be, until now.

My son is at that age where the hormones of puberty are running rampant. Just within the last few months, his acne has broken out at a level where he asked if there was anything we could do about it. We tried over the counter creams and face washes, but it didn’t seem to make much of a difference. We finally called our family doctor who was more than happy to send a prescription for something a little stronger to a nearby pharmacy.

The pharmacy had the medication ready to go when I arrived, but because we had never had a prescription filled at that pharmacy for our son, they didn’t have him connected with our insurance. When he scanned the barcode on the outside of the package, the register showed a price of $414.00.

I gasped in shock at the price.

The cashier quickly cleared the price and smiled a bit to himself, then asked if he was covered under my insurance plan.   After entering the information into his profile in the system, the cashier ripped up the old receipt, and retrieved a new one from the printer, and scanned the new barcode

I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw the new total of $24.

While I was much happy with how much my insurance cut the cost of the prescription, I couldn’t help but think about the full price of $414.   Acne isn’t a life threatening illness, so had we been without insurance we could have just declined the prescription. But what if the medication was absolutely needed to treat an illness?

I shook my head. There has to be a better way to handle medical needs in our great country. If you have insurance, medication is very affordable. If you don’t, you’re paying $414 for acne medication.

Have you ever seen the full price of prescription medication? How much did your insurance bring the price down?

About the author

Brock Kernin


  • Your blog is titled ‘clever dude’ and yet you are giving your son prescription medication for acne. There are plenty of natural ways to help relieve his acne symptoms, all of which would be much healthier for him! Start at and also have a little google around.

  • Listen to your dermatologist, not David. I struggled with acne for years and was finally diagnosed with having too much testosterone. I’ve been taking a hormone blocker for years and it’s completely cleared up my skin. I just switched to a high deductible health insurance plan, so I’m about to see the actual cost of my acne medication and antidepressants.

  • That’s right ignore me and keep popping pills. Or look at the root cause of your issue and dial in your nutrition accordingly. Many many people have cleared themselves of acne naturally. However, if you think unnatural drugs is a good thing to put in your kids carry on.

  • @David – I certainly respect your opinion, and I don’t disagree that there may be some changes to his diet that could help with his acne. It could also be that we could follow all the natural healing advice and it wouldn’t make a bit of difference. In the end, the point of the article isn’t whether I should get prescription medication to help my son’s skin (which by the way is working fabulously), the point is really how expensive prescription drugs cost without insurance, and whether or not the pricing structure of prescription drugs, and medical care in general in our country is out of control. Thanks for reading, and for sharing your thoughts!

  • @Addison – glad to hear that your doctor was able to finally figure out the root cause of your issues. I’d be very interested to know what kind of changes you see in your prescription drug cost on your new plan – maybe I’ll read about it on your blog. 🙂 Thanks for your comment!

  • Oh wow that’s a lot of money. Good that you’re insured. I have yet to see my real prescription medication bill, but it’s really crazy how expensive things cost, making it even more important to have a health insurance.

  • I quit my job. I’m almost 2 weeks unemployed. I tell people that I believe it’s only called retirement if you have money. Anyway. On my last day of work, I put in a half day and then took a 1/2 day of sick leave. I then had a mammogram, and ran around to all of our pharmacies (why did my husband go to CVS rather than Walmart?) to get all of our refills. So this subject is near to my heart. We are between insurance coverage right now. Several months ago, I was picking up my generic migraine medicine – at Walmart, mind you- and the cashier told me it was $100. I told her there must be some mistake; I asked for generic, and it was an approved medication under my plan. I guess I hadn’t had a prescription there before, because it was the same situation as yours. She ran my card, and it came down to $10. I was both relieved and appalled. Something is not right.

  • @Cathie – hope your new insurance kicks in soon! Ah, you experienced the sticker shock of the full price of medication as well. I went to India a few years ago and I got a proactive prescription for anti-biotics just in case I needed it – the after insurance price was $1.57. I’d like to have known what the full price of that one was. 🙂

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