Enhance Health

How Much Do Prescription Drugs Cost Without Insurance?

Prescription drugs can be costly if you don’t have insurance. It’s difficult for Americans to plan for the cost of their prescription drugs when they don’t have insurance because there is a lack of transparency in the industry. 

In this post, we’ll shed some light on the cost of various popular prescription drugs. We’ll also explain the factors that go into the price of prescription drugs. For example, generic drugs are chemically similar to brand-name drugs, but there is generally a big difference in price between the two options.

If you’re struggling to afford your prescription drugs, insurance is the answer. We understand that for the most part, the prices are inaccessible if you’re not currently earning an income, and aim to solve this problem. At Enhance Health, we help you access information about your options no matter what you earn.

What Do Prescription Drugs Cost Without Insurance?

Here are the costs of some common prescription drugs without insurance:

  • Lisinopril: $12.41
  • Omeprazole: $62.69
  • Metformin: $15.01
  • Atorvastatin: $64.02
  • Albuterol: $55.05
  • Gabapentin: $78.72
  • Hydrocodone: $97.57
  • Lisinopril: $12.41

** Prices of the above with insurance: Free or much lower than stated above.

These are average costs, so they might differ slightly at your local pharmacy. The cost can also differ depending on how much of the medication you’ve been prescribed. These costs are based on the average consumption of these medications over the course of a month.

If you take double the average amount, you’ll need to double the cost. Similarly, if you only take half the average dose, you can half the cost.

What Influences The Cost Of Prescription Drugs?

There are a few factors that influence the cost of prescription drugs in the US. On average, Americans spend around $1200 per year on prescription drugs.

Knowing the factors affecting prescription drug prices helps consumers understand what they’re paying for when choosing a specific brand or pharmacy. 

This can help you make decisions that could reduce what you pay for your prescription drugs.

Generic Vs. Brand Name

Brand-name prescription drugs are more expensive than their generic counterparts. In fact, generic prescription drugs can cost up to 85% less than the brand name versions, and are just as effective and offer the same benefits for patients.

The difference in price is due to the regulations in place by the Food and Drug Administration. The way it works is that pharmaceutical companies develop drugs and can patent them, meaning no other company has access to the formula.

The patent is only valid for a specific amount of time, though. Once it’s expired, other pharmaceutical companies can make replicas of that drug. 

These replicas often look different, and that’s because the FDA mandates the way the drugs themselves as well as the packaging looks. This helps the original producers of the drugs differentiate their drugs from the replicas on the market. 

So although the brand name and generic drugs may look different, they are ultimately the same thing and will work the same way. 

As an example, Celexa is a brand-name prescription drug that treats depression, and it costs between $290 and $310 for a month’s supply. The generic option is called Citalopram, and only costs between $4 and $20 for a month’s supply. See how vast the difference in price is? 

The only differences you’ll find between these two options will be the color, shape, flavorings, packaging, and inactive ingredients. The inactive ingredients don’t have any bearing on how well the active ingredients work, so there’s no need to be concerned about that. 

When you’re insured, you’ll find that most insurances cover a portion of the cost of brand-name drugs, and the whole cost of their generic counterparts. This is how insurance becomes beneficial, even if you are earning a low income.


The price of prescription drugs can vary by a large amount between pharmacies. To be precise, they can vary by up to ten times the price of the cheapest pharmacy. This is true even if they’re in the same city, so it’s important to do your research.

In a recent study, it was found that an allergy drug called Singulair was as little as $15 at one pharmacy, and as much as $140 at another pharmacy within the same zip code.

There are a few factors that affect the way a pharmacy prices its prescription drugs. These include their business costs, the prices pharmaceutical companies charge them for the drugs, and the profit margins they choose. 

These costs themselves are usually kept hidden from consumers, but they are the factors affecting drug prices at pharmacies.

Although you’ll never know how each factor individually contributes to the cost of a drug at a particular pharmacy, you can find out the price of a drug they sell to compare it with your other options.

To find out the price of your prescription drug, you can call a few pharmacies ahead and compare their price points.

Period Of Time

The period of time you’re on a prescription drug can influence the price of it. Many people don’t know that if you pick up a 90-day prescription instead of a 30-day prescription, the price is slightly cheaper.

You’ll also save some money on transport to and from the pharmacy when you get an extended prescription.

Tips For Savings Money On Prescription Drugs If You Don’t Have Insurance

Prescription medication is expensive when you’re uninsured. Allergy medication can cost upwards of $30 per month, diabetes medication can cost more than $200 per dose, and depression medication can cost upwards of $1000 per month. 

Of course, this depends on the brand you purchase, but it’s expensive to be on prescription medication nonetheless.

Here are some tips to ensure you’re accessing your prescription medication at the most affordable rate if you’re not on an insurance plan.

Research Generic Brands

Do your research on the alternative brands available. Most doctors will prescribe the brand name of the prescription drug you need, but that doesn’t mean you need to buy that brand.

The best place to start when you’re looking for affordable prescription medications is to understand what your options are. As we mentioned earlier, the only difference between brand names and generic medications is the filler ingredients.

It’s possible to have an allergy to some of these, so you’ll want to know what they are before deciding on the generic you’re after.

Once you’ve decided on a generic option that works for you, you can move on to finding out the price of it. If you want to keep your options open, you can make a list of a few generic options that would work for you at this stage.

Call Your Local Pharmacies

With the names of the generic drugs you’re looking for in hand, call your local pharmacies to ascertain their pricing on these drugs.

The rough pricing of some diabetes medications can drop from $200 to $4, and depression medication can drop from $1000 to $17. 

Pharmacies will price generic drugs differently as well, which is why it’s important to phone around instead of going to the pharmacy closest to you. 

There are a few Prescription Assistance Programs available to help patients in the US who can’t afford their prescription drugs. Your local pharmacy might be able to help guide you in terms of finding one.

They’re provided by pharmaceutical companies. Once you’ve found one, you will need to apply directly with the relevant company to receive the benefit. The program either gives you access to discounted medication or provides it completely free. It depends on the company offering it.

How Are Prescription Drug Prices Set?

Although pharmacies can set prescription drugs at different price points, they’re sold to pharmacies at set prices. So, how are these prices determined?

Pharmaceutical companies have a say in the price points the drugs they develop are offered at. They can justify prices based on how much research and development went into the drug. Some companies also buy the rights to existing drugs and raise the prices they’re sold for.

Pharmacy Benefits Managers are responsible for negotiating discounted prices on prescription drugs on behalf of insurance companies and employers. 

They aim to create favorable usage of particular drugs, thereby increasing their sales while making the promise to keep their prices low. It’s unknown whether consumers actually save any money on these drugs, but it’s useful to know that this is a factor at play. 

Lastly, health insurance companies determine how much you pay for a specific prescription drug. They decide what the copayment will be, and if a treatment is covered at all. 

For the most part, insurances cover at least a portion of most prescription drugs. Medications included on the World Health Organization’s list of essential medicines are more likely to be prescribed.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I get my prescription for free in the US if I don’t have health insurance?

You can’t get your medication for free if you’re a private patient, but you can apply for discounted rates from pharmaceutical companies that offer them.

Are the prices for prescription drugs different based on the dosage I’m prescribed?

Yes. In general, higher doses of medication cost more because they contain more of the active ingredient.

Why can’t I find the price of my prescription drug online?

Pharmacies don’t advertise the price of their prescription drugs because this would make it easier for customers to choose their competitors if they’re cheaper.


Prescription drugs can get expensive, especially if you’re on more than one kind. Drugs for depression are the most expensive, with prices going over $1000 per month. Diabetes drugs are also quite pricey and can be unaffordable if you’re not insured.

Having insurance in place protects you from these high prices if you’re diagnosed with a chronic condition. You never know when this might happen. There is also the possibility of being diagnosed with more than one chronic illness at a time, meaning your medication could cost thousands of dollars each month. This is why it’s best to have health insurance to help you cover these costs. 

Contact Enhance Health for help finding the most affordable insurance plan for your financial situation.

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