ALABASTER, Ala. (WIAT) — As the legislative session comes to a close this week, one bill passed the house unanimously Wednesday that could help consumers save money on prescription drugs. That bill, SB 73, which also passed the Senate unanimously in mid-May, is meant to ensure price transparency at the checkout counter.
Susan Doyal stops by Blair Pharmacy in Alabaster at least once a month to refill her prescriptions. While she thinks prices there are competitive, she believes they are out of control nationwide.
“Yes, prices are high, way too high,” Doyal said. “Especially for the drugs that people need.”
Daniel Blair is the owner of that shop and tells CBS 42 that sometimes there is a way to spend less for the drugs one needs. Essentially, it comes down to buying prescriptions out-of-pocket as opposed to going through an insurance company.
“It can look like 10 to 15 dollars extra in [a customer’s] pocket that they get to keep each month because they’re not using the insurance,” Blair said. “I’m providing [prescriptions at] the cash price.”
And naturally, depending on how many prescriptions one has, the savings can add up.
But Blair claims that insurance companies don’t want him to tell customers about the price difference because it pushes business away from them. Many pharmacists are gagged from sharing that information with customers and run the risk of losing insurance contracts.
“It can be very detrimental, and they wield those contracts like a club,” Blair said.
But SB 73 would give pharmacists the right to disclose that information to clients without the threat of repercussions, meaning that consumers can make smart purchasing decisions and save a few bucks.
For customers like Doyal, she knows that should this bill be signed into law, it will benefit her.
“Oh absolutely,” Doyal said. “There’s a couple of drugs that I take regularly that would be less expensive if I paid outright for them than if I went through my insurance company.”
Gov. Ivey’s office tells CBS 42 that the bill is expected to make its way to her desk in the next few days. After going through the legal review, it will then be potentially signed into law.