Keeping Healthy: Buying Generics Can Save Major Health Care Dollars

"Generics are the exact same drug that's in the brand and they're at a much lower cost. So except for the rare person that has sensitivity to some sort of binder or a die that's in one pill versus the other, there's really very little reason why you shouldn't at least try the generics first."

Dr. Frank Dubeck of Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield says more bread and butter drugs have become available on the generic market.  And the savings is big.

"In 2013, there is an advantage for two million dollar saving in upstate New York just on drug expense if people who are currently taking a brand switch to a brand that's going to generic," says Dubeck.

The savings will go up to 250 million in 2014.  Among those generic versions of brand-name drug being released this year, are the anti-depressant Cymbalta and Niaspan, which is used for lowering cholesterol.  In 2014 - Nexium - that purple pill- will be available in a generic form.  But besides cost saving for the patient, buying generics can save the health care industry serious money.  Every time we buy a brand name drug instead of a generic, our insurer has to pay that higher price, instead of the money being spent elsewhere.  That drives up the cost of health care in general. And there's another issue at play here.  To entice customers to stay with the brand name, some companies have been offering coupons.  But that's hurting the health care dollar.  

"The member says 'oh this is great what a bargain.'  What they don't realize when that use that coupon is that their plan is still paying the full price for the brand drug," says Dubeck.  "That's money that's going to drive up premiums for next dollars, and that's money being spent by the health plan using premium dollars that didn't need to happen."

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