You’re ready to quit opioids, and you know medication-assisted treatment is right for you. But how can you afford the Suboxone prescription?
Whether you are insured, uninsured, or underinsured, paying for the medication part of medication-assisted treatment (like Suboxone) can be a daunting task. At Workit, our mission is to democratize addiction care by making effective addiction care more affordable and accessible for everyone. We’re advocating for you to get the healthcare you deserve. When you join our medication-assisted treatment program, you have a personal care team of experts willing and able to help you navigate any hurdles that pop up.
But we don’t control the price of prescriptions, so we want to share some simple steps that anyone can take to make Suboxone (buprenorphine/naloxone)—and all prescriptions—more affordable.
1. Know the ins and outs of your insurance coverage (if you have it).
Insurance plans can be confusing, no matter which one you have. Untangling the acronyms and percentages is often mind-numbing. However, it’s well worth the effort. Understanding your insurance plan empowers you to make the most sound healthcare decisions possible, and allows you to make smart financial choices for your addiction treatment, medication choices, and other medical options. Start with your Summary of Benefits and Coverage (SBC) which legally must be provided to you by your insurer, and be in plain, easy-to-understand words.
Workit Wisdom: Plan a question blitz! A lot of us are intimidated by insurance and healthcare, so we often shy away from asking detailed questions. But you need and deserve answers. Write a list of every possible question you might have around your plan, from the basic (How much does my copay to a primary care doctor cost?) to the complicated and even hypothetical (If I need to change my prescription mid-month, how much will that be?). When you’re done, rank your questions in order of priority. Schedule a chunk of time (at least an hour) to call the number on the back of your insurance card, and ask all the questions on your list. Take copious notes and repeat back answers for confirmation until you are 99% you are clear on the answer. Demand answers! Be relentless. The stakes are high. If the hold time is too long and you don’t get a chance to ask your questions, commit to calling again.
2. Don’t have insurance? Use a prescription discount card!
Anyone without insurance prescription drug coverage or who pays full retail price even with insurance coverage (such as during Medicare donut holes or under High Deductible Health Plans) can benefit from a prescription discount card. There are a lot of reputable ones, like Good Rx, Free Drug Card, and Discount Drug Network (and more! A quick internet search will help you find the ones that work with your pharmacy). You use a prescription discount card like a coupon by showing it to your pharmacist when purchasing your medication. Most major chain pharmacies accept prescription discount cards. The discount value varies quite a bit, but it can range from 15-20% on brand drugs and 40-75% on generic drugs.
Workit Wisdom: If the card doesn’t process correctly the first time around, have your pharmacist call the pharmacist help desk number on the card.
3. Research drug prices.
Getting a solid grounding on what to expect price-wise for your prescriptions will put you in a better position to budget for them and, in some cases, to negotiate with your pharmacy. Some pharmacies will give you a general idea of price over the phone. There are also a number of excellent online tools for estimates and comparisons, such as Easy Drug Card Price Checker, Good Rx, and official state resources such as MichiganDrugPrices.com. If you have the time and transportation, it can make good financial sense to get your meds from a pharmacy that offers them at a lower price, even if it’s not the closest pharmacy to you.
Workit Wisdom: Make Good RX your price-matching bargaining chip!
4. Look into manufacturer’s coupons.
Manufacturer coupons come from the pharmaceutical companies themselves (so for Suboxone, that is the pharmaceutical company Indivior). Manufacturer coupons generally can’t be used with state-provided insurance like Medicaid, Medicare, or TriCare (the insurance that covers members of the military), but if you’re eligible, they can make your prescription much more affordable. You may be required to provide your personal or medical information to the pharmaceutical company in order to get the coupon.
Workit Wisdom: Manufacturer coupons usually have restrictions on the amount of time or number of refills. This means that the coupons will eventually run out. So while using a manufacturer’s coupon, plan ahead for how you will afford your Suboxone in the future.
5. Mentally prepare yourself for some sticker shock.
Remember that addiction is sneaky, looking for excuses to drag you away from recovery and back into its jaws. Don’t let the close of your medication be that excuse! Affordability is a very valid concern, but it is often something you can deal with. Go into this process aware that medication prices can be high and resolved to find a way to make it work anyway.
Workit Wisdom: Knowledge is power! A solid grounding about what to expect price-wise makes you better able to budget correctly for your meds, and possibly to negotiate with your pharmacy. It can also be an emotional safeguard against sticker shock! If your medication seems pricier than you expected, remember this: where there is a will, there is a way, and you deserve to get the best treatment possible.
6. Keep the price in perspective.
Many of us here at Workit who have gone through medication-assisted treatment ourselves find it helpful to remember to view the price of the medications in contrast to the price of our addictions. The substances we used were quite costly, both financially and in a ton of other ways.
Workit Wisdom: Do a comparison of how much you spent on street drugs and how much you’re spending on Suboxone and treatment. You might be surprised at your savings. Take our quiz to find out how much your opiate addiction costs.
7. Keep it legal. You deserve it.
It can be tempting to get Suboxone on the streets, but there are so so many hidden costs and dangers to that! First off, it’s risky because you don’t know what’s in it, and you’re no longer under a doctor’s supervision. Second, buying substances illicitly (even if you’re planning to use them appropriately) can expose you to triggers—people, places, things—that make it a lot harder to stay in recovery. Finally, many people find that purchasing buprenorphine illegally creates a burden of shame and hiding. This can impact self-esteem and quality of life, even if it doesn’t lead to a relapse. The bottom line: invest in yourself, and it will repay you for the rest of your life. Quite frankly, you deserve it.
Workit Wisdom: When you’re trying to get clean, ditch your dealer! Entirely.