The fact is for many older, hence lower cost drugs, their total cost is less than the prescription plan standard co-pay. If you have drug coverage through your employer, that plan should provide your co-pay is the lesser of the drugs total cost or x dollar or percentage. You might want to check that out.
There is no reason your drug plan of any kind should make money on your co-pay. It’s not enough, although good advice, to ask the pharmacist about cash payment (especially on low cost drugs), you need to challenge your plan and its application of co-pays.
As a health economist, Karen Van Nuys had heard that it’s sometimes cheaper to pay cash at the pharmacy counter than to put down your insurance card and pay a copay. So one day, she asked her pharmacist how much her prescription would cost if she didn’t use her health coverage and paid cash. “And sure enough, it was [several dollars] below my copay,” Van Nuys said. Van Nuys and her colleagues at the University of Southern California Schaeffer Center for Health Policy & Economics decided to launch a first-of-its-kind study to see how often this happens. They found that customers overpaid for their prescriptions 23 percent of the time, with an average overpayment of $7.69 on those transactions.