Prescription Drug Costs Soar For U.S. Families

As we build out our healthcare price transparency website’s network and services for patients across the country, we’ve been thinking more and more about additional ways to lower health care costs. With the U.S. spending spending approximately $340 Billion dollars each year on pharmaceuticals, people are becoming significantly more resourceful in an attempt to lower their medical bills from paying for prescriptions. We understand the value of price transparency with medical procedures, but we also know that patients need to be able to search and compare drug costs to find affordable options.

(Read More: Price Transparency & Affordable Drugs)

Health Perch and Ghergrich&Co released some frankly jaw-dropping information on how much money Americans are spending on prescription drugs. In a recent article, they reported that the U.S. spends nearly $1,000 per person per year on pharmaceuticals, which is about 40% more than Canada and more than twice as much as counties including France and Germany.

Check out more insane facts and statistics about patient consumers and prescription drugs below…

perscription drug costs


Want to learn more about how to save money on the most popular prescription drugs on the market? 

How to save money on prescription drugs



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10 Questions For Your Diagnostic Imaging Center

As a consumer-driven patient exploring your options in health care, it can help to have a guide with questions to ask your physicians before you go in for your procedure or your appointment. When comparing imaging centers, it’s important to remember that you have a choice and can go anywhere you want. It’s a good idea to know how to find the best diagnostic imaging providers in your area, you can do this by price shopping, comparing online reviews and checking out their patient resources page within their website.

Let’s say you need an affordable CAT Scan, for this scenario, do you know what questions to ask your diagnostic imaging center?

Side Note: In order to make this a little more exciting we thought we’d add some cats to the equation, because who doesn’t love funny internet cat photos? 

1. How do the prices for their imaging procedures compare to other radiology centers and/or hospitals in the area? 







“Oh, you don’t have insurance? Yes, that will be one BILLION dollars please.”

Remember that sometimes hospital-owned centers or locations partnered with universities could have higher priced procedures than independent imaging centers, AKA: IDTFs.

2. Does the imaging center come recommended by other physicians in the community?








“No this tie is not a clip on. They told us in med school to always dress professionally for patients.”

You don’t have to go where your family doctor refers you, but if they do recommend an imaging center to you there is probably a reason. Ask why they referred you there; it could be because they like their image portal, or because they have a partnership with them or just because they like that physicians’ reports. Your physician might not care about helping you find the cheapest MRI, but they definitely want the best quality scan available.

3. Is the imaging center accredited by the American College of Radiology? Do the radiologists have any special certifications or are they sub-specialized?








“This is my award for giving the best CAT scans. Get it… get it?”

All of the imaging centers on are accredited by the ACR. It’s basically the ante to get to our price transparency table, so to speak. Be sure to ask about subspecialties for the radiologists as well. This is especially important for musculoskeletal injuries.

4. Does the radiology center have up to date imaging technology?








“I know this hardware looks intimidating, but I assure you, it is the best of the best.”

This is a good question to ask, but it’s also not a make-or-break deal. Just because a center’s imaging technology isn’t brand new, doesn’t mean they can’t get quality reads out of it. Be sure to verify with your referring physician if you have any concerns about the center’s imaging equipment.

5. If additional testing is necessary, can they offer other advanced imaging services at their location? (Ex: CT scans, ultrasounds, DEXA bone density scans)








“No ma’am, I am not ‘kitten’ you, we can certainly perform an MRI right after this CAT scan if your doctor requests it.”

Mulit-modality centers have many benefits including the ability to scqueeze you in for additional imaging without you having to return to the center at a later date. This is especially common for women’s imaging in scenarios where a breast ultrasound or breast MRI would give more information than a screening mammogram provides.

6. Do they offer options for claustrophobic patients? Ex: Open MRI machines







“Excuse me… Ms. MRI technoligists? I think I feel a panic attack coming on.”

Open MRI machines aren’t always the best for every patient but if you’re claustrophobic or overweight, it might be your only option. Don’t let your fear get in the way of the medical care you need!

7. Does the radiology center provide you with access to your imaging reports in a timely and easily accessible manner?








“So what you’re going to do… is just login here. Click the mouse over there…”

There’s nothing worse than waiting for weeks to find out the results of your imaging procedures. Whether you’re worred about a lump you found in your breast or you’re waiting to find out if you’re going to need knee surgery on a potentially torn ACL, 24-hour turnaround time is something patients need to ask about.

8. Are the radiologists available to discuss reports and interpretations with your doctor?






“Mhm, yes. Dr. Meow Mix that’s a great question, let me pull up the scan.”

Even if the imaging center doesn’t have their radiologists on-site, they should be able to be available to your doctor to go over any questions about your image reports. Most teleradiology companies or off-site radiology providers will offer this service, but not all.


9. Can you bring your own music to listen to while you’re in the MRI scanner?






“Ah, the sweet sound of Adele is much better than the sound this MRI machine makes.”

The sound of an MRI machine sounds something like techno, but much worse. Having the luxury of bringing your own music to block out the sound can help a lot and also ease any nervousness or fears for patients. Be sure to ask, so you don’t get stick listening to elevator music!

10. Does the imaging center have radiologists on-site, available for consultations?

dr cat







“I’m not trying to look unamused, this is just my ‘listening face.’ I assure you.”

Again, this isn’t a game changer for when you’re searching for an imaging center, but it’s definitely a positive thing if there is a radiologist on site to go over any questions. This is fairly uncommon, so if there is a radiologist available for you to meet, it’s a big plus!




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6 Most Common Medical Procedures for Women

Patient consumers are on the rise and we’re seeing that over 80% of surveyed Americans have searched online to find more information about medical procedures they need. Women, in particular, from across the country are becoming much more active participants in their health care; using their resources to become more educated patient consumers.

most common medical procedures for women

(Read More: The 5 Most Common Sports Injuries)

Usually, women are directed to their medical specialists by their primary care physicians or OBYNs. If a woman doesn’t have a relationship with a physician already, she often turns to the hospital for medical procedures. This can unfortunately end up costing them way too much. If women have the tools to shop around and compare prices of medical procedures, they can save thousands of dollars out-of-pocket each year.


Here are some of the most popular medical procedures for women, all of which they can compare prices for on

  1. Cesarean Section – The average c-section costs about $50,000 and insurers payout an average of $27,866. (Truven Health Analytics). Cesarean sections are the #1 most common procedures for women in the United States.
  2. Hysterectomy – The price of a hysterectomy can range from $7,627 to $11,739 depending on whether the woman has an open hysterectomy in a hospital, a laparoscopic hysterectomy in an outpatient setting or a vaginal hysterectomy.
  3. Mammogram – According to the American Cancer Society as of 2013, 66% of women under the age of 40 get a mammogram every two years. In recent years’ low cost mammograms have grown in popularity. The average affordable mammogram costs about $128.
  4. Breast Biopsy – There are two main kinds of biopsies needle biopsies and surgical biopsies, each of which can vary significantly in cost based on where the woman goes for the procedure. Keep in mind that hospitals will have higher priced biopsies.
  5. Bone Density Test – Osteoporosis affects more than 200 million women worldwide and DEXA bone density tests can help test for it. DXA bone density tests only cost about $105 and should be performed every few years depending on the woman’s t-score.
  6. Pelvic and Abdominal Ultrasounds – Pelvic ultrasounds are used for a myriad of reasons related to women’s health and are some of the most common women’s imaging procedures. Both ultrasounds usually cost anywhere from $190 – $250 for uninsured patients who are paying out-of-pocket for their MRIs.


Search for the most common medical procedures for women and find low cost MRIs, affordable mammograms and even cheap lab work.

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Achieving Price Transparency Resolutions for 2015


With just two months left in 2015, we decided to cycle back and check out our 2015 Resolutions to see how well we’ve done at reaching our goals. We know that at the beginning of the year, it can be so easy to set goals and confidently promise to keep them, but we promised our patients, providers and ourselves to grow and we want to come through on those promises.

Resolution #1: We have great traction in some of the country’s states with the highest uninsured rates (Florida and California), we’ve attracted providers in rural areas (ex: Kearney, Nebraska) and even large metro markets (ex: New York City, Los Angeles) but we are not finished yet. We want to break into states where we currently don’t have providers and add even more in the areas with great coverage so patients have OPTIONS.

UPDATE: We’re proud to say that we broke into a number of new markets including Texas and Illinois. These are two areas where we had only a few providers earlier this year and now, we’re helping hundreds of patients each month to find MRI costs and affordable options for other diagnostic imaging procedures.

new year's resolutionsResolution #2: We started in Radiology because it has the most price shopped medical procedures, but we recognize that patients deserve price transparency in other health care niches too. This is why we are hoping to add surgical procedures to the site in 2015. Save On Medical will then work towards getting pricing for ambulatory surgery centers across the U.S.

UDPATE: As of August, we added the ability to request prices for surgery procedures to Save On Medical. Patients in every state can find locations close to them and make price inquiries. Soon, we are expecting to have a large group of surgery center chains joining our network as Save On Medical providers at which point, patients will be able to see self-pay surery prices. We are also adding the ability to get prices for pharmacy and lab services, which means patients can find prices for lab work and find out where they can get affordable drugs.

Resolution #3:  Our website is a great tool for uninsured patients or patients shopping around comparing prices for a procedure their insurance won’t cover. We want Save On Medical to be a solution for patients with insurance too though. Wouldn’t it be great to see how much you’ll have to pay out-of-pocket with your insurance versus a self-pay rate? Better yet, if you can go through your insurance, if we could help you submit your payment to insurance with just one click? In 2015, Save On Medical will make that a reality.

UPDATE: This is probably one of our most exciting new directions. We are about to launch Save On Medical’s TruCost™ component which will enable us to show patients how much they will owe for a certain medical procedure whether they pay for it completely out-of-pocket OR with their insurance. We are able to marry the patient’s eligibility with the providers’ agreed upon rates and allowables to show real prices and still collect the patient’s payment online before the appointment.  We’ve gone beyond just self pay MRI prices.

Resolution #4: We built Save On Medical for patients AND providers, so we want to continue to improve our website so that it’s a better tool for physicians. Imagine how easy it would be for a doctor to refer a patient to a specialist through a seamless app in which the patient could pick which provider they want to see.  We’ll be working towards that goal as well.

UPDATE: We have decided against developing a Save On Medical appliation for now because we decided it wouldn’t be something our end-users (patients) would be using regualrly enough. Instead, we changed the look of our website to make it responsive on mobile-devices so patients and providers alike can use Save On Medical from their smartphones, tablets etc. 

healthcare shopping

We are proud of how far Save On Medical has come in the last 10 months and we will certainly be closing out 2015 strong. We’ve doubled the amount of patients using the website to shop for medical procedures, reached new communities across the country and we are excited to continue to grow and help people find affordable medical care.

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How to Save Money on the 10 Most Popular Prescription Drugs

When it comes to health care expenses, doctor’s appointments and medical procedures can really add up but some of the largest medical costs your family incurs are from prescription drugs. Over the years though price transparency has evolved and many cost saving opportunities have risen to popularity. Employers have taken steps to make Flexible Spending Accounts available to their employees to help pay for medical expenses like prescriptions and patients can also opt to choose the generic versions of their drugs to keep costs low.

However, the most important thing patients can do to keep drug costs down is price shop and compare the costs of their prescriptions at different pharmacies and online. If you are taking one of the top 10 most popular monthly prescriptions, with a little research you will probably find that you could be saving much more.

Read More: Why It’s So Hard to Find Health Care Costs Online

 How to save money on prescription drugs

The top 10 medications by number of monthly prescriptions are:

  1. Synthroid (levothyroxine), 21.5M – Treats hypothyroidism, enlarged thyroid glands and thyroid cancer.
  2. Crestor (rosuvastatin), 21.4M – Lowers high cholesterol and triglyceride levels to reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke or blood vessel issues
  3. VentolinHFA (albuterol), 18.2M – Inhaler used to prevent brochospasams
  4. Nexium (esomeprazole), 15.2M – Acid reflux medication
  5. Advair Diskus (fluticasone), 13.7M – prevents wheezing and shortness of breath caused by asthma or lung disease
  6. LantusSolostar (insulin glargine), 10.9M – controls high blood sugar in people with diabetes
  7. Vyvanse(lisdexamfetamine), 10.4M – used to treat ADHD, increases ability to pay attention, stay focused and stop fidgeting
  8. Lyrica(pregabalin), 10.0M – treats pain caused by nerve damage due to diabetes or shingles
  9. SpirivaHandihaler (tiotropium), 9.6M – treats wheezing, shortness of breath caused by ongoing lung disease such as; COPD, bronchitis or emphysema
  10. Januvia(sitagliptin), 9.1M – controls high blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes


Interestingly enough, the most popular monthly prescriptions and the top 10 prescriptions by sales are not the same. This means that the prescriptions listed below, while not as popular, are likely much more expensive. If you are taking on of the prescriptions below, don’t forget to ask about generic options and to search for more affordable drugs online.


The top 10 meds by sales are:

  1. Humira (adalimumab), $8.2B – Treats arthritis and Crohn disease
  2. Abilify (aripiprazole), $7.9B – Treats schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression
  3. Sovaldi(sofosbuvir), $6.9B – Helps to treat hepatitis C virus infection
  4. Crestor (rosuvastatin), $5.9B – Lowers high cholesterol and triglyceride levels to reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke or blood vessel issues
  5. Enbrel(etanercept), $5.9B – Treats rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis and plaque psoriasis in adults
  6. Harvoni(ledipasvir and sofosbuvir), $5.3B – Used to treat hepatitis C
  7. Nexium (esomeprazole), $5.3B – Acid reflux medication
  8. Advair Diskus (fluticasone), $4.7B – prevents wheezing and shortness of breath caused by asthma or lung disease
  9. Lantus Solostar (insulin glargine), $4.7B – controls high blood sugar in people with diabetes
  10. Remicade(infliximab), $4.6B – Treats rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, Crohn disease, plaque psoriasis and ulcerative colitis.

Data found Via WebMD

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