YOUR MONEY-As you sniffle, take a hard look at your allergy costs

Wed Apr 23, 2014 3:30pm EDT
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By Beth Pinsker

NEW YORK, April 23 (Reuters) - My family's contribution to the $15 billion annual allergy business tallies up to well over $100 a month, but our costs - like many people's - are adding up differently this year.

We need nose sprays as well as antihistamines - generic Allegra for me, generic Zyrtec chewables for one kid and name-brand Claritin chewables for another (because she insists on grape).

There are multiple doctor visits, all with $20 co-pays. Our bedding is covered, our air is filtered and we are overflowing in tissue boxes.

As they start sneezing, many Americans are finding out that their plans from pharmacy benefit managers Express Scripts Holding Co and CVS Caremark Corp no longer cover a slew of popular prescription asthma and allergy remedies.

One of those is the steroid nasal spray we were using. We either have to pay $160 a bottle for Veramyst (and with three of us going through about a bottle a month each, that would get quickly out of hand) or go with the generic alternative for a $20 co-pay.

Other medications that have changed status include Proventil, Ventolin HFA, Beconase AQ, Rhinocort Aqua, Zetonna, Omnaris, Qnasl and several varieties of Advair and Flovent.

Also, Nasacort AQ recently went over-the-counter, and there is always a list of new name-brand medications that come out with generic versions.

All of this can change what you pay out of pocket. Nasacort, for instance, now costs about $12 a bottle, so if your co-pay was $20, you will save. Same if you have a high co-pay for name-brand drugs but pay less for generics.   Continued...