This woman’s lawsuit claims that CVS has been overcharging for prescriptions

CVS Caremark Reports Quarterly Profit Increase Of 25 Percent
Getty Images | Justin Sullivan

Interpreting your doctor bills can be a pain in the you know what. (To help, we’ve put together a guide of what to do when a big doctor bill hits you). But now a new lawsuit might cause you to pay extra attention to your bill at the pharmacy, too.

A California woman is suing CVS for allegedly charging customers more for certain generic prescriptions if they pay with their insurance. You might want to keep tabs on this one if you’ve been using your insurance to purchase prescriptions at CVS, which has more than 9,600 locations. That’s because this lawsuit seeks class-action status.

Getty Images | Justin Sullivan

The plaintiff, Megan Schultz, claims in the lawsuit against CVS Health Corporation that she paid $165.68 for a prescription for a generic drug in July. If she would have bought it paying cash, and without using her insurance, though, it would have only cost her $92, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit refers to CVS’ practice as a “fraudulent scheme.”

“CVS never told her that paying cash would allow her to pay 45 percent less for the drug; instead, CVS remained silent and took her money—knowing full well that no reasonable customer would make such a choice,” says the lawsuit.

CVS Denies Accusations

CVS replied to the lawsuit in a statement and denied the allegations, saying that they’re based on “a false premise and are completely without merit,” according to NBC News.

Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash

So, what’s with the discrepancy?

The lawsuit says it’s a result of “Pharmacy Benefits Managers” acting as intermediaries between insurance companies and pharmacies. PBMs negotiate prices that insurance companies have to pay pharmacies. Pharmacies benefit from this because it drives more traffic into the stores, the lawsuit explains. The customer then pays the amount that the PBMs have negotiated, even if it’s more than the price of the drug, the lawsuit explains.

“Co-pays for prescription medications are determined by a patient’s prescription coverage plan, not by the pharmacy,” the CVS statement provided to NBC News says. “Pharmacies collect the co-pays that are set by the coverage plans. Our pharmacists work hard to help patients obtain the lowest out-of-pocket cost available for their prescriptions.”

CVS went on to deny that its PBM, CVS Caremark, does not engage in the practice of “co-pay clawbacks.”

This one hasn’t reached class-action status just yet. But if you’re curious about other class-action lawsuits, there’s a database of cases around the country. Also, if you suspect you’re paying too much for your prescriptions, check a site like GoodRx to run some comparisons.

[H/t: The Penny Hoarder]

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Brittany Anas

Hi, I'm Brittany Anas (pronounced like the spice, anise ... see, that wasn't too embarrassing to say, now was it?) My professional writing career started when I was in elementary school and my grandma paid me $1 for each story I wrote for her. I'm a former newspaper reporter, with more than a decade of experience Hula-hooping at planning meetings and covering just about every beat from higher-education to crime to science for the Boulder Daily Camera and The Denver Post. Now, I'm a freelance writer, specializing in travel, health, food and adventure. I've contributed to publications including Men's Journal, Forbes, Women's Health, American Way, TripSavvy, Eat This, Not That!, Apartment Therapy, Denver Life Magazine, 5280, Livability, The Denver Post, Simplemost, USA Today Travel Tips, Make it Better, AAA publications, Reader's Digest, Discover Life and more. Learn More.