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Unmoderated debate about buprenorphine, recovery, treatment approaches, addiction... But keep it clean!
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I’ve Made A Huge Mistake...

Wed Jan 03, 2018 5:44 pm

Hey guys, sorry to chime in with more griping, but I’ve really screwed the pooch this time.

Heretofore, I had some lovely insurance through work that covered a great deal of the cost of my medication. In this case, that’s 3 of the Zubsolv 5.7 mg a day. Anyway, in an attempt to save more money this year, I signed up for the lesser of the two options available to me. I believe I was talked into this program under false pretenses, which has me all the more frustrated that I now have insurance that isn’t really insurance at all. In fact, insurance wanted to skin me out of $45 for my fill of Gabapentin, but the pharmacist could sell it to me, cash, for $15. This is apparently the world we’re living in, and all else is crumbling into this narrow abyss.

Upshot of the whole thing, I cannot afford to spend $750 a month for Zubsolv. It is the only buprenorphine/nalaxone combo that my insurance will cover, but in this case, there’s no coverage at all until they get their pound of flesh to the tune of $3k.

I’m angry. I’m angry at myself for making this stupid, stupid mistake, and I’m angry at this system that plays game shows with my health and sanity. The price is WRONG.

If anyone has an advice on how I might get this necessary medication, I would be greatly appreciative. Thank you in advance, and bless you all!

B. Byrner

Re: I’ve Made A Huge Mistake...

Wed Jan 03, 2018 9:52 pm

I really don't have any advice except see if you might qualify for a program your Dr might have knowledge of but I did want to say I'm sorry and I hope this gets resolved and someone will chime in for more advice later.

Re: I’ve Made A Huge Mistake...

Fri Jan 05, 2018 11:07 am

I too chose a less expensive insurance because premiums have risen to a point where i can no longer afford them. This new coverage has me paying 60% of my prescription as opposed to my old copay of $40. I found a workaround tho with the $25 coupon that suboxone has on their website. This way my insurance pays 40% and the coupon covers the balance so my out of picket is $25.

Could you ask your doctor to prescribe suboxone instead of zubsolve? Then you could use that coupon.

Until the ACA disaster is fixed, we have to start being creative with our healthcare. I hope you are able to find a solution

Re: I’ve Made A Huge Mistake...

Fri Jan 05, 2018 6:15 pm

It's actually the most frustrating thing ever! I have no insurance as we all know and the one tiny break that I have is the suboxone coupon which saves me a pretty decent amount. I even use it on partial fills. I'll use it for my first pick up then again on my second pick up. Well yesterday, for the first time in 6 years, the website that my pharmacy uses to add my coupon was down. I was like.... what, I've never heard of this happening!

I already jump through 15 hoops for this medication. I pay $350 a month to my clinic (trust me, it is the cheapest in my area compared to $400-500). My pharmacy is the cheapest around here and it's still $9 a strip. It takes me around 35-45 minutes to drive to my clinic and pharmacy, so I couldn't sit and wait for the website to come bk online especially when she said she's seen it take a full day before. Plus I'm running low on cash until next week which is why I get partial fills. So I had to pay full price for a few strips until I could make it bk next week. I got 7 strips and it cost me $70 dollars. I usually get 14 for $100 with the coupon. I guess they are charging more than $9 now a strip.

It's just becoming harder and harder lately for me. I do everything I'm supposed to and I attend meetings to continue working on my recovery but in my area, cash patients may as well be chasing their tails in a circle because these prices are forcing ppl like myself to the side. There's nothing fair anymore imo. My area takes so advantage of addiction patients. It's ridiculous. Evidently we all got some kind of hoops to jump through but goodness gracious it's a constant fight just to continue this medication that has proven to save our lives...... but everyone has their hands out waiting to take advantage. That's my rant! Sorry but I'm not a happy camper today.

Re: I’ve Made A Huge Mistake...

Sun Jan 07, 2018 5:21 pm

People can argue over whether obamacare was necessary or valuable, but it has not worked as intended the past couple years. The media loves to boast that more people use it now, but they don't mention the reason we all use it--- because it is now the only way to buy insurance! Insurance companies are not allowed, under the ACA, to compete for specific markets. Instead they all must offer coverage for everything (a single man's insurance policy MUST cover women's contraceptives, and a 50-y-o woman's policy MUST cover maternity costs).

I have one choice for health insurance. One insurer, charing $21,000 per year, for a plan with a $10,000 per person deductible. Take it or go without insurance.

And yes-- I don't take much medication, but the meds I take cost $53 if I pay cash. If I use my health insurance, my meds cost $123. I've read a couple articles about why; pharmacy benefit managers bump up the cost because they pocket the difference. And under typical contracts, pharmacists are not allowed to tell customers that the cash price is cheaper.

I use the 'goodRX' app, for other medications, and I've save tons by avoiding my lousy health insurance coverage. The goodrx app has good prices for buprenorphine as well.

For people taking 24 mg (or the zubsolv equivalent), consider cutting down by a half tab, and then another half tab in a couple weeks. You will not feel anything beyond a placebo effect, and the savings is significant.

Dumping the ACA was painted a 'mean-spirited', but anyone looking through glasses that aren't tinted by politics can see it is a silly program. This year, insurers are making record profits, and they STILL get huge subsidies from the US Government. The ACA is toast, no doubt, and the only question is how long to prop it up, and how to clean up the carnage when it is gone. Amazing how a little government 'help' can destroy an entire industry, all in the quest to provide coverage for 15 million people. They say we still have 8 miilion uninsured.... but now it's just a different group of people!

Costs.... do they not have buprenorpine in your area? Around me, buprenorphine 8 mg costs $2 per tablet, or $120 per month for 16 mg. I encourage people to taper to 8 mg if paying cash; they will feel the same, but pay only $60 per month.

Re: I’ve Made A Huge Mistake...

Tue Jan 09, 2018 2:15 am

The ACA got off to a terrible start in large part because it was never funded properly by Congress. Some individual states wouldn't fund the state side of the Act because they were led by people who were determined to make the ACA fail. Many members of Congress staked their career on making the ACA fail. I'm not sure why it's a surprise then that the ACA isn't doing as well as it could have done if it had been properly funded in the first place. When you have legislators in the pockets of the health care lobbyists and big pharma, again, it's not a surprise that a measure to make sure that normal, middle class people are protected with affordable health care would not work as it was meant to.

Unless the government puts some teeth into laws that limit corporate welfare and reign in outrageous corporate profit, our laws will continue to be driven by those who profit from the current system. This includes the downfall of any laws that are supposed to protect regular consumers (the Dodd-Frank bill that was rolled back by the House Majority in 2017) or benefit the majority of our people, like the ACA.

Frankly, I am disgusted by the attitude of many politicians (and the people who elect them) who don't think that basic health care should be a right of all the people of this country. And basic health care could be a reality if we prioritize it over the runaway profits of corporations. Some might argue that corporations aren't incentivized to grow the economy if the CEO makes a salary of 300 million as opposed to 3 billion dollars. I don't buy that argument. I think that there can be fair profit for the heads of successful businesses without leaving the common person exposed to bankruptcy for an emergency appendectomy.

In any case, the purpose behind the ACA isn't silly even if the current reality of the law is. That's what happens when an entire half of the Congress vows to make sure that a sitting president has no lasting legacy and when political posturing is more important than getting anything done for the people of this country.


Re: I’ve Made A Huge Mistake...

Tue Jan 09, 2018 10:12 pm

$60 for 30 8mg tablets? I recently paid $77 for 15 generic 2mg tablets. I should go Wisconsin, buy 60 8mg tabs, cut them into 1/4ths and have an 8 month supply for $120. Even with the cost of travel I would come out way ahead. It’s unbelievable.

Btw, Amy, I completely agree with you about “healthcare”/pharmaceuticals for profit and not for health.

Re: I’ve Made A Huge Mistake...

Tue Jan 23, 2018 11:58 am

Sorry for the long time between responses, and thank your for all of the meaningful, insightful discourse. I haven’t seen any two people—even at the same recovery facility—who have had the exact same scenario. Mostly I think this has to do with who your doctor is, but probably more importantly, who your insurance is.

As it happens, my insurance provider is in bed with Zubsolv. What it means for me is that they’ll offer no coverage whatsoever for Suboxone or any other brand of same. My doctor could prescribe Suboxone for me, and I have a feeling he’d prefer that. As would I, really. I’m on three of the 5.7/1.4 mg tablets daily and do not find them as effective as two of their direct corollary, the 8/2mg strips of Suboxone. I’m familiar with the coupon that was mentioned and have used it in the past. The downside is that if I use that and pay cash for Suboxone, I’m not making any progress on my $3k deductible. Fortunately, there is a health savings account available with my plan, to which I contribute about $40 monthly. On top of it, the company I work for dropped in $1,500 after my first paycheck of the year. I had received some terrifying misinformation that that amount would be doled out in quarterly increments. It doesn’t. I got it all at once about a week ago. Cost wise, that covers a big chunk of my out of pocket expenses. Added to that, I have a gracious doctor and world class pharmacists helping me out. So far, I’m about $700 up on that $3k deductible in the first month, and my total out of pocket expenses have been less than $150. Not every month will be like that, but once the deductible is met, the medication cost will drop precipitously. I will never—EVER—opt for this insurance option again if I can avoid it, but at least this turd has a couple of gold flecks in it.

I still struggle with running out a little early, a lot of it having to do, I think, with the efficacy of Zubsolv. What seems to help, if I can convince my addict brain, is cutting my tablets in half with an X-Acto knife, thus turning one big dose into two smaller ones. The way I see it, if half a tablet coats all the receptors—and I believe it’s close—I’m giving them two coats of buprenorphibe semi-gloss rather than one big drippy coat of the full gloss. If that makes sense.

Anyway, that’s about enough out of me. Thanks again everyone for all of the stories, help and other information!


Re: I’ve Made A Huge Mistake...

Tue Jan 23, 2018 1:17 pm

HI Bunson,

I am also on Zubsolv. My insurance (United Healthcare) only covers Zubsolv as well. I too was on Sub strips for several years, then one day our company switched Heath insurance and I had to make the switch also to Zubsolv.

After being on both meds, I can say I really like Zubsolv better. I did invest in a Pill Splitter. I can split my zubsolv into 6 pieces. But, no more than that. I have tapered over the years to taking just two chunks of my Zubsolv a day. so equiv to 2-3mg a day.

If you are not tapering down your dose, Zubsolv should work just fine. I would only recommend going to Sub strips if you are cutting your dose into small pieces. The absorption rate is better on Zubsolv so you only need 5.7mg of bup . instead of the 8mg on the strips.
TBH I could not tell the difference when switching from Sub to Zub.
I also like the taste better of the Zubsolv. I hate orange flavor. haha

I like your idea of splitting your dose. I think you will get just as much out of the 1/2 dose than you do out of the whole pill.

Let us know how you are doing taking the zubsolv. You will get used to it. It just might take a little time for you to adjust mentally. No one likes change. But once you make the switch , I think you will adjust and be fine.

Re: I’ve Made A Huge Mistake...

Tue Jan 23, 2018 1:29 pm

My health insurer is United Healthcare as well and I was made to switch to Zubsolv as well. I am currently on two of the 1.4mg/0.36mg a day. I usually take them at once.

I prefer Zubsolv to suboxone as well. It definitely tastes better and dissolves more quickly. However, when I switched from one 2mg suboxone strip, I had to go up to 1 and a half Zubsolv pills. Maybe it was psychological on my part. I'm not sure. Now I am on 2 of the Zubsolv pills because the Nucynta ER that I usually take for head and neck pain had a disruption in production and is currently unavailable in my area. (Nucynta ER is manufactured in Puerto Rico and Hurricane Maria disrupted production.)

I say, do the best you can. If splitting your Zubsolv makes a positive difference for you, then do it. Hopefully, over time, you will find that how you dose matters less and less until you take it just like you would a blood pressure pill, for example.


Re: I’ve Made A Huge Mistake...

Sun Jan 28, 2018 6:48 am

Amen, Amen, Amen, to your post about the ACA! I have seen it work for many low income families and think that we need to continue to work on it until we get it right! Affordable healthcare should be a given in this great Country of ours! You are so RIGHT about an admin that is just focused on wiping out our former President's legacy they don't even stop long enough to see what is working and what is not! I get so frustrated with how our politicians do not work for us! OK, so sorry to have a political rant here! I just hate to here stories like this!

Re: I’ve Made A Huge Mistake...

Wed Jan 31, 2018 12:39 pm

To Raudy, Amy, and Michelle,

Thank you all. I am also on United Healthcare. I switched to their “Super Saver” program in an effort to cut down monthly expenses as my wife and I are in a bit of a financial crisis these days. It makes me hate my job even more because I don’t feel like I’m making any money at it. I am, and it’s helping, but I don’t get to enjoy any of the money because it’s usually gone to bills and groceries within a couple of days (sometimes only a couple of minutes!) after it’s arrival in my bank account. And unfortunately, it added the undue financial hardship of making monthly doctor visits 250% more expensive, and medications unreachably costly. I’m with Michelle as far as our current presidential administration. Change for change’s sake does not necessarily spell out improvement, and in this case it has done more to make Republicans look like childish criminals than advocates for lasting, meaningful reform. My two cents only. If you’re pro-Trump, all I can say is that I hope you’re right about him. I just haven’t seen much evidence to support that narrative.

I’ve stayed on the Zubsolv, as it happened to be that my employer did end up dropping $1,500 cash on my health savings card. Coupling that with pharmacy discounts—I pay $500 but $738 gets credited against my deductible—I’m over half way to meeting the full $3,000 and I’m only about $200 out of pocket so far. Things weren’t as bad as they initially appeared is what I’m trying to say. I still have to shell out another $1,200 or so before the deductible is met, but I’m thinking by March, I should be back on track.

Thank you all for your kind, thoughtful and informative responses! I appreciate you all!


Re: I’ve Made A Huge Mistake...

Wed Jan 31, 2018 11:03 pm

I'm glad for you that it has not ended up costing you as much as you thought and that you are getting closer to that deductible being fulfilled!