With my insurance right now, prescriptions count toward the deductible and coinsurance cap. For those in a similar boat, I'm curious what you do to reduce the costs of prescription drugs. Right now, all I need is Asacol and occasional prednisone (the latter is $4 to $10 at any local chain pharmacy).
For Asacol I order from an online pharmacy in Canada. I used PharmacyChecker.com to find one that looked good. Asacol is generic in Canada and it costs me about $850 for a year's supply vs. around $3,200 or higher in the US. The first bottle of 500 pills was apparently manufactured by novopharm, one of Canada's largest generic pharmaceutical companies. I've read more than a few news stories warning about getting drugs from Canada because the FDA can't ensure their quality, but I think the FDA's mostly just trying to discourage people. I took the pills to my GI and he thought they should be fine and I guess they are because I didn't have a flare for about two years. Canadians will probably laugh at being concerned about buying drugs from their country! I haven't even looked into getting drugs from Mexico, which I'd be much more concerned about.
I recently reordered another refill from the same Canadian pharmacy, but this time for 1000 pills (biggest discount). This time, they came from India and are labeled as "mesacol", manufactured in India by "sun pharmaceutical industries"--which appears to be a large multinational pharmaceutical company. I'll take these to my GI as well as see what he thinks. I don't think there's anything to worry about with these pills either; India seems to have quality health care, for those that can afford it (which is substantially cheaper for foreigners). A couple of annoying things about this order is that the Canadian pharmacy split the order into 6 different packages to get around the FDA's limit of allowing only 90-day or less prescriptions. The pills are also individually packaged which will be a minor daily annoyance popping them out of the foil.
On my previous prescription, it arrived with FDA stickers and notices indicating that customs had opened it for inspection and had allowed it through this time but that future shipments might be confiscated. I asked the Canadian pharmacy about this and they said it rarely happens and if so they'd just send a replacement order.
Unless I get better (and costlier) insurance, or incur additional costs (like Remicade), this seems to be the cheapest solution for me. I've inquired with a lot of US pharmacies and checked out various discount programs, but none even come close to being as cheap. It's really not much of a hassle--online ordering is easy, they call to confirm the order, and my doctor faxes them a prescription (with multiple refills). I'm sure there are some who won't like this as it undercuts US drug companies and pharmacies, and while I greatly admire US drug companies for their products, as a consumer I have to do what's best for my finances, especially with a long-term condition.
So, that's what I do. I'd love to hear others' experiences and especially recommendations: favorite online pharmacies (if that's okay here), discount programs, etc. I think Walmart and other stores and even insurance companies have mail-order pharmacies, but I haven't yet looked into those. Asacol's patent apparently expires in 2013 and then hopefully generics will be available in the US.