Prescription drugs: An important part of health insurance costs

Prescription drugs are important to our overall health care. Don’t forget to calculate your prescription drug costs when buying a health plan.

When choosing a health insurance plan option under the new Affordable Care Act, prescription drug coverage may be something you need to include when choosing a health insurance plan. Some health insurance plans cover prescription drugs, while others do not. You need to determine for you and your family whether you need this in your plan. If you purchase through the Marketplace, prescription coverage will be included in the plan as one of the ten essential benefits.

To determine the cost of this type of coverage, begin by listing each prescription drug you are currently taking. Next, if you currently have a health plan that covers prescription drugs, write down your co-payment for each prescription drug and multiply it by the number of prescriptions you will fill in a year. Add up all your individual prescription costs to get a total prescription drug cost for the year. You can use this number to compare against other health insurance plans you may be considering to buy.

If you don’t have a health plan yet, compare the cost of prescription drugs you are currently paying out of pocket. Determine how much you are paying on a yearly basis with no coverage. If you don’t have this information at home, you can go to your pharmacy and ask for the cost of each drug you take. Then, compare your current prescription drug costs to a health care plan that includes a premium, or the monthly cost for the plan, plus the cost of the co-payments per prescription fill. Compare the health plan cost to what you pay out-of-pocket to see whether you would receive a savings with the health plan coverage.

Prescription drugs can be a very important aspect of your health care as some drugs prevent serious conditions over time while others may be medically necessary for your survival. The cost of the drug coverage becomes an important decision when picking a health plan. Comparing your current out-of-pocket costs to the costs incurred in a health plan can tip your decision in choosing a Smart Choice health insurance plan for you or your family.

Michigan State University Extension is providing weekly seminars on how to make a Smart Choice in purchasing a health insurance plan. Join our free webinars at on Mondays at 9 a.m., 3 p.m., or 6 p.m. EST.

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