Author Topic: Buy Prescription Anti-Biotics? How to Save $$ on a High Deductible Health Plan  (Read 5925 times)

thef0x

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I can purchase prescription antibiotics (amoxicillin and doxycycline) for ~$20-$40 USD / treatment.

It would cost me ~$150 USD / doctor visit to get them prescribed when I need them + a strep test (which never matters since they prescribe them antibiotics anyway) + the cost of the antibiotics (no clue) because I have a very cheap healthcare policy!  = ~$200USD a visit.

Ideal scenario: purchase them the day you need them.  Cannot do this, would need to order 3 weeks in advance.

Real scenario:  I'd be spending $50 today to probably save $150 in the next 12 to 24 months.  Having them around for travel, also, would be really ideal. 

What do you folks who have high deductible health care insurance plans do to save money?

This seems like a pretty safe bet (shorting my health to save some mulah). 

Thanks for your feedback!
-j

Catomi

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I wouldn't do this, but I'm not a fan of unnecessary antibiotic use and this would lend itself to that type of scenario. Antibiotics should only be used for a bacterial infection as they are useless against viruses, so you'd need to be able to identify whether you had a bacterial or viral infection. Then depending on the type of infection a culture and sensitivity is a good idea to make sure the med used will actually be effective against the organism.

Given that antibiotic resistance is already becoming a significant problem, I think there are better places to save money than in buying meds you may or may not need in the future.

Elliot

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Yeah no.

caliq

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Do not do this. I think what you're talking about doing is buying leftover antibiotics from someone else's prescription?  This runs the risk of that person developing a resistant infection, as well as dangers to your health (you giving yourself a resistant infection by not completing a treatment regimen, or drug interactions, or taking meds not effective against your specific infection, etc etc).

Doxycycline in particular is a fairly hefty antibiotic, and I don't think it's normally prescribed for strep throat.   I've only ever seen it prescribed for Lyme disease, and treatment usually lasts at least 1 month.  It also makes you feel like absolute shit -- it's not something you want to take unless you ABSOLUTELY have to.  I think my husband lost ~15 pounds when he was on it, because he was so nauseous he couldn't eat a thing.

Pretty much any doctor these days should be culturing strep in the office and prescribing the most appropriate antibiotic.  The days of willy-nilly antibiotic handouts are over - and if they're not in your doctor's office, get a new doctor.

garion

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If you don't actually have confirmed strep, you do NOT need antibiotics (on top of increasing resistance, you are messing up your microflora unnecessarily). So it is necessary to get a strep test before you start antibiotics. It might be cheaper to go to Minute Clinic or something if you don't want to pay to see a doctor. Antibiotics themselves are usually very inexpensive, and you can shop around because price varies by pharmacy. Some box stores like Target/Walmart have good deals on those types of things just to get people in the store. I can't imagine it would be more than a few dollars for a common antibiotic even without insurance.

Also, strep throat in adults isn't that common. Most of the time an adult sore throat is a virus or allergies. If you are seeing a doctor who gives you antibiotics without a confirmed strep test, find a new doctor. If you are having a lot of confirmed strep throat as an adult, you should probably see a specialist because that is unusual. And if you are actually asking about giving these black market antibiotics to a child, then... no. Don't do that.

thef0x

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Thank you for all of your great replies.

I tend to suffer from one HUGE annual sinus infection (green/yellow snot for a week+, plugged/pain in ears) and have been prescribed antibiotics (with success) for that one spell almost predictably each year.

Given that the cost of the prescription is a sunk cost, shouldn't I be saving $$ on not going to the doctor given that..     

Every time I've been to the doctor in the last 5 years they always 1) do a rapid and long strep test and 2) immediately prescribe antibiotics --> the outcome being that REGARDLESS of the test results, I'm on antibiotics. 

Given that fact -- (am I the only one this happens to?) -- that I'll be taking the drugs when I'm this sick no matter what, shouldn't I forgo the test and the doctor as it's never relevant? 

I'm the only one who decides when I do go see the doctor and every time, literally, it's the same, 1) test, 2) prescribe a z-pack/amoxicillin.

Logically, I think this makes sense.  Please weigh in on my thinking here and let me know. 

I will keep an open mind about this.  No need to shell out $50 on some drugs today but I think $50 as an insurance policy is a SMART BET financially. 

Would love to hear more feedback.  Thanks everyone!
-j

caliq

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If you have a sinus infection, why are you talking about a strep test?  I'm confused.

There's also a logical fallacy here -- you may have just tested positive on the strep test every year in the past.  So, the doctor doesn't call you and tell you to stop the antibiotics because you do in fact have a bacterial infection.  That does not, however, mean you will test positive every year in the future. 

thef0x

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I wouldn't do this, but I'm not a fan of unnecessary antibiotic use and this would lend itself to that type of scenario. Antibiotics should only be used for a bacterial infection as they are useless against viruses, so you'd need to be able to identify whether you had a bacterial or viral infection. Then depending on the type of infection a culture and sensitivity is a good idea to make sure the med used will actually be effective against the organism.

Given that antibiotic resistance is already becoming a significant problem, I think there are better places to save money than in buying meds you may or may not need in the future.

Great post, thank you. 

I think your point about the strain impacting the prescription is correct theoretically but again, given that I am always prescribed antibiotics on the initial doctors appointment w/o the viral/bacteria/strain information, I think it doesn't hold in practice.

Again, I'm just being up front about my own experience.

What happens with ya'll? 

When I go in, I'm horribly plugged up, yellow/green stuff coming out of my sinuses, coughing up the same stuff from my lungs, ears may or may not be super plugged and in pain.  Pretty common symptoms but not a common cold, we're talking I'm really sick. 

The doctor looks at my nose, ears, eyes, throat, listens to me breathe, checks my glands, and then tells me they are going to do a rapid strep test and longer bacterial test to determine what it is and that I should take antibiotics because I'm pretty sick and if they work, I should have dramatic improvement within 3 days.

I take them, 2-3 days later the headache, sinus pressure, etc is relieved, I have residual goo inside of me but two weeks later I'm 100%.

Usually take a z-pack.

LMK what happens with you with the above symptoms!

Thanks!
-j


Elliot

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Long story short, you are not a doctor. There is a reason a license is required to practice medicine.

thef0x

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If you have a sinus infection, why are you talking about a strep test?  I'm confused.

There's also a logical fallacy here -- you may have just tested positive on the strep test every year in the past.  So, the doctor doesn't call you and tell you to stop the antibiotics because you do in fact have a bacterial infection.  That does not, however, mean you will test positive every year in the future.

Yes you're right, Hume would be proud, and often I don't test positive for strep yet get cleared up immediately. 

Last year it was a staph infection in my throat -- was insane.  Previous years it's a sinus infection and the antibiotics clear it up. 

I'm frankly arguing that from experience, if I get a cold like this, odds are good that taking antibiotics will clear it up.  Therefore, given that the doctor will always prescribe antibiotics (again, am I alone here?), I should just buy em cheaper.

LMK
-j


Elliot

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A cold is caused by a virus. Viruses are not treated by antibiotics.

thef0x

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Long story short, you are not a doctor. There is a reason a license is required to practice medicine.

Yes, this fits the "sage wisdom" category for me but makes enough sense.

Will only be an extra $200 or so a year.

More incentive to stay healthy, be on top of my eating, sleeping, and making sure to reduce dairy and increase vitamin C during cold season.

Plus I'm saving $50 and fighting/improving my compulsion to buy sh!t I don't need.

Thanks everyone! 

caliq

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If you have a sinus infection, why are you talking about a strep test?  I'm confused.

There's also a logical fallacy here -- you may have just tested positive on the strep test every year in the past.  So, the doctor doesn't call you and tell you to stop the antibiotics because you do in fact have a bacterial infection.  That does not, however, mean you will test positive every year in the future.

Yes you're right, Hume would be proud, and often I don't test positive for strep yet get cleared up immediately. 

Last year it was a staph infection in my throat -- was insane.  Previous years it's a sinus infection and the antibiotics clear it up. 

I'm frankly arguing that from experience, if I get a cold like this, odds are good that taking antibiotics will clear it up.  Therefore, given that the doctor will always prescribe antibiotics (again, am I alone here?), I should just buy em cheaper.

LMK
-j

I think there are two issues here:

1) Where are you planning on purchasing antibiotics without a prescription?

2) Are you taking a full treatment regiment of the antibiotics?  (For example, a ZPack has 2 pills for the first day IIRC -- if you're buying someone's half-used pack, you won't have the proper loading dose.) 

Staph infections are scary -- I had one in my throat last year too.  We happened to be doing cultures that week in my Microbio lab class and I got to test myself and ID my infection all on my own :D  MRSA is a staph infection -- an antibiotic resistant one.  Hence the stress about making sure you're taking a full dose of regulated, tested, effective antibiotics. 

thef0x

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A cold is caused by a virus. Viruses are not treated by antibiotics.

Sinus infections (more specific than "colds") can be caused by both viruses and bacterial infections. 

Bacterial infections are treated with antibiotics.

Some sinus infections are treated with antibiotics.
-j

Elliot

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Cold was your word, not mine. Without a culture &sensitivity test you cannot know what you have and what antibiotics will be effective. I see, though, that your mind is set to do this dumbass thing. Best of luck in your endeavors and thanks for contributing to the public health problem of antibiotic resistance.
« Last Edit: March 08, 2015, 09:27:51 PM by Elliot »

Bracken_Joy

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Healthcare type here. Please please don't do this. Unnecessary courses (and incomplete courses) of antibiotics are contributing to the rise of MRSA, VRE, etc. (antibiotic resistant strains of common infective agents). We're stepping back in time- we are now unable to provide medications that work against various bacterial infections now. That's crazy. That's the societal level. On a personal one, every time you take a course of antibiotics unnecessarily, you are causing dysbiosis of your gut. This has been shown to increase your risk of obesity, and dysbiosis is even being implicated in allergies, asthma, and mental health issues (and so many other things).

What doctors do when they put you on an antibiotic before your tests come back is called "empirical treatment", and while it may look random and pointless to you, it actually involves a lot of factors on which to choose, when, and why.

thef0x

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I'd be buying a full 10 days of generic amoxocillin (Amoxil), 1250mg/day.  Would take 1500mg for the first day.

If you have a sinus infection, why are you talking about a strep test?  I'm confused.

There's also a logical fallacy here -- you may have just tested positive on the strep test every year in the past.  So, the doctor doesn't call you and tell you to stop the antibiotics because you do in fact have a bacterial infection.  That does not, however, mean you will test positive every year in the future.

Yes you're right, Hume would be proud, and often I don't test positive for strep yet get cleared up immediately. 

Last year it was a staph infection in my throat -- was insane.  Previous years it's a sinus infection and the antibiotics clear it up. 

I'm frankly arguing that from experience, if I get a cold like this, odds are good that taking antibiotics will clear it up.  Therefore, given that the doctor will always prescribe antibiotics (again, am I alone here?), I should just buy em cheaper.

LMK
-j

I think there are two issues here:

1) Where are you planning on purchasing antibiotics without a prescription?

2) Are you taking a full treatment regiment of the antibiotics?  (For example, a ZPack has 2 pills for the first day IIRC -- if you're buying someone's half-used pack, you won't have the proper loading dose.) 

Staph infections are scary -- I had one in my throat last year too.  We happened to be doing cultures that week in my Microbio lab class and I got to test myself and ID my infection all on my own :D  MRSA is a staph infection -- an antibiotic resistant one.  Hence the stress about making sure you're taking a full dose of regulated, tested, effective antibiotics.

thef0x

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Cold was your word, not mine. Without a culture &sensitivity test you cannot know what you have and what antibiotics will be effective. I see, though, that your mind is set to do this dumbass thing. Best of luck in your endeavors and thanks for contributing to the public health problem of antibiotic resistance.

Elliot, no need to be rude.  This is a thought experiment.  I haven't taken any action on this and it's posted in the Q&A part of the forum.

Also:

Without a culture & sensitivity test you cannot know what antibiotics will be effective.

Is this a true fact?

I simply do not know.  It makes sense theoretically but I don't know if it's accurate. 

thef0x

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Healthcare type here. Please please don't do this. Unnecessary courses (and incomplete courses) of antibiotics are contributing to the rise of MRSA, VRE, etc. (antibiotic resistant strains of common infective agents). We're stepping back in time- we are now unable to provide medications that work against various bacterial infections now. That's crazy. That's the societal level. On a personal one, every time you take a course of antibiotics unnecessarily, you are causing dysbiosis of your gut. This has been shown to increase your risk of obesity, and dysbiosis is even being implicated in allergies, asthma, and mental health issues (and so many other things).

What doctors do when they put you on an antibiotic before your tests come back is called "empirical treatment", and while it may look random and pointless to you, it actually involves a lot of factors on which to choose, when, and why.

Totally buy into both arguments. 

Thanks for the response. 

Elliot

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This is a true fact.

Source: I am a healthcare professional

caliq

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You're being very cagey on where you're actually planning to purchase a controlled substance without a prescription. 

So basically, you're thinking of doing something illegal and stupid, and looking for someone to make you feel better about it by saying it's fine, all to potentially save $200.

You know you can just get your doctor to prescribe generic amoxicillin, right?  I'm on a high deductible plan and currently under the deductible; I literally paid $7 for a 30 pill bottle of generic oxycodone the other day -- I can't imagine generic antibiotics are that much more expensive. 

NumberJohnny5

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You're being very cagey on where you're actually planning to purchase a controlled substance without a prescription. 

So basically, you're thinking of doing something illegal and stupid, and looking for someone to make you feel better about it by saying it's fine, all to potentially save $200.

Not the op, but you can buy that stuff pretty easily. I just searched the 'bay and can buy 100ct 500mg Amoxicillin for $32. It's marketed for fish, but it's the same stuff given to humans. As in, same markings and everything. Some even comes in easy to swallow capsules, I guess you're supposed to break it open and dump the contents in the aquarium?

Oh, and you can get it OTC in Mexico.

Op, 1250mg sounds a bit high. Have you tried a lower dose? Just curious.

Catomi

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When I go in, I'm horribly plugged up, yellow/green stuff coming out of my sinuses, coughing up the same stuff from my lungs, ears may or may not be super plugged and in pain.  Pretty common symptoms but not a common cold, we're talking I'm really sick. 


OK, so I may be an outlier here but my family just got over a fairly nasty cold with sinus symptoms and I had everything you just described. Everyone else had a couple of days of low grade fever; somehow I missed that this year, but frankly it was my turn since I usually get hit pretty hard each year. You know what we did? Pushed fluids, rested, drank tea, humidified the house, made sure we ate a healthy diet. My parter I think took tylenol once or twice. I had a couple of days of my ears being plugged so that they weren't pressure adjusting correctly and it was annoying as fuck (messed with my hearing) but I dealt with it. No meds. I don't believe they're necessary for every sore throat/time I have gunk coming out of my sinuses.
I do still think it's a bad idea to pre-emptively buy medicine for yourself without a script* and without medical training. For one, if you're buying off ebay then you have no idea how the meds were handled or stored, or even if you're getting what you're supposed to be getting. For another, when you have a hammer (meds just sitting around) then you run the risk of everything looking like a nail. This is a bad idea. Find somewhere else to save money.

*If you manage to find a doctor that will write you a pre-emptive script so you can have them just sitting around, then I will argue that you have a bad doctor. Unless you have medical training that you're not mentioning that will qualify you to diagnose.