FEBRUARY 01, 2007

Some employers are encouraging their workers to bypass their insurance plans and purchase drugs directly from their local pharmacies, figuring they could save money by not using their health insurance, and workers could save money because the price of the drugs is cheaper than their insurance copays.

To take advantage of this growing trend, several independent pharmacies across the country have become more business savvy with their drug pricing. One example is a program called "1 Price Prescription," which promotes the sales of about 200 generic drugs at the cost of $18 for a 3-month supply. The prices also offer volume savings: $34 for 6 months, $48 for 9 months, and $60 for about a year. Patients pay out of pocket, without insurance or copays.

The program was developed by Dan Benamoz, chief executive officer of Pharmacy Development Services in Lantana, Fla, a consultant organization that provides business solutions and coaching services to independent pharmacies. Not all pharmacies run the program in the same fashion, however; Benamoz and his team present the concept and the model, and pharmacies then shape it to their specific needs. "We're doing this with pharmacies all over the country," said Benamoz.