Filling a prescription is pretty simple. In some states, including Maine, Minnesota and New York, your doctor electronically files the order. Elsewhere you bring the doctor’s scribbled instructions to a pharmacist.
Except that maybe it’s not so simple. Maybe there is a cheaper medication available that would do the same job. In that case, why doesn’t your pharmacist tell you?
Because in many states, your pharmacist operates under a contract that forbids telling you about less expensive alternatives.
“Every time a pharmacist dispenses a medication, they know a lot about other medications for sale that aren’t necessarily related to that person’s health plan,” said Shawn Bishop, vice president of programs that control health care costs and advance Medicare at the Commonwealth Fund. (The Commonwealth Fund is a health care policy research organization.)