How does your insurance deal with desiccated thyroid? Here’s Wendy’s story with Armour.

Wendy is one of those gals that tries to adhere to “natural” in regards to her medication choices. She switched over to Armour from Synthroid about three months ago.

The transition was slightly trying, says Wendy. Her doc didn’t believe her that she shouldn’t be on a low dose for more than a couple weeks without upping it. So she  went hypo all over again. (See why here.)

But after successfully upping the dose, she will now shout that it’s been the BEST thing  in every way!  She tells folks that being on Synthroid was like having your hand amputated and replaced with a hook, while being on Armour was like have it replaced with a fully functional prosthetic.  Her skin is softer, hair is not shedding nearly as much, her mood has changed in a good way, memory has returned, fogginess has faded. She feels closer to her old self than she has in almost give years.

Now the bad news…

All this time, she only paid $15 for her Armour at the local Walgreen’s. But as of April 1st, it will be considered a Tier 3 drug under her insurance plan–United Healthcare.  Exclaims Wendy in outrage and sadness:  “This means that the natural drug I love, that has restored my in so many ways that the synthetic t4 only drugs never could, will now cost 85 bucks! Who can afford that?!

And here’s the awful irony: Synthroid, the worst medication ever thrust upon us in the treatment of hypothyroid, is Tier 2 (i.e. costs less), and generic T4-only is Tier 1 (costs even less).  i.e. if you are under this insurance, you have to pay big bucks to feel a thousand times better.  She has no clue why this is happening, but warns that it might start to happen across the board for others as well!

Here’s what happened: most insurance companies classify drugs under Tiers.  Tier 1 is generally generics.  And since the Acella “generic” brand of desiccated thyroid entered the market last November, her insurance company decided Armour is now a brand name, thus under Tier 3 and now $85 for Wendy. Seems a bit greedy when it could have risen to Tier 2….

But here is potentially good news for some of you. There is a bill to stop the Tier expense. You can read about it here. Unfortunately, tho, it “will not impact self-funded health plans which cover about half of all employees with health insurance. Federal legislation is needed to change that.”

Does your health insurance cover your desiccated thyroid?

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Canadian Pharmacy price updates for Erfa: See the latest prices here.

How medical journals affect the prescription practice of your doctor: An interesting article on this found here. And here’s an article about how the author of a medical article fails to state his association with the pharmaceutical of the product he is writing about–one more conflict of interest and influence on your doctor!

Ridiculous! Basing “normal” for Hashimotos patients by the TSH, a pituitary hormone, NOT a thyroid hormone: Read it here and weep.

Vit. D can help you stay sharp: So many benefits from optimizing your Vit D, and here’s one with your brain.

Need to talk to others? See all your alternatives here.

22 Responses to “How does your insurance deal with desiccated thyroid? Here’s Wendy’s story with Armour.”

  1. karen

    this is so obvious that this is the reason they”reformulated” armour. to be able to charge a whole lot more.it’s all about $ for corporations. we need more protests like in wisconsin

    Reply
  2. Marina

    Wendy may do better to not have this go through her insurance. Shop and compare prices at Costco, Walgreens, private pharmacies and see what “an out of pocket” cost might be. Her insurance is the one that is setting the price for her and she may be able to find something far better on her own. I remember paying about $35 for compounded natural thyroid which was not covered under my policy. I use Erfa now and find the price very agreeable even though I don’t run it through my insurance.

    Reply
  3. DeAnna

    This happened to me as well – same insurance – United HC – but it was more difficult for my pharmacist to also order the Armour. I changed to my husband’s federal policy. I am back on Synthcrap per my internist but wanting to change back to NT to try for a pregnancy. Insurance companies just control everything as our premiums continue to rise.

    Reply
  4. Robin

    I’m on levothyroxine, just started in like a month ago and now I want to find out about Armour. I’m also thinking I might need a doctor who specializes in hypothyroism but no idea how to find one.

    (From Janie: Robin, go here: http://www.stopthethyroidmadness.com/natural-thyroid-101 And no, you don’t need a doc who specializes in it. You just need any doc who is good enough to prescribe it and based on what we have learned: http://www.stopthethyroidmadness.com/things-we-have-learned Go into a doc’s office prepared to guide him or her. YOU are your own best advocate)

    Reply
  5. Robin

    Is this armour or is it a fake?

    http://www.amazon.com/Natural-Sources-Raw-Thyroid-capsules/dp/B00014DQGU/ref=sr_1_1?s=hpc&ie=UTF8&qid=1300289933&sr=1-1

    (Robin, Armour is a prescription brand of desiccated thyroid. What you are looking at is an over-the-counter. If you need further feedback, join patient groups from here: http://www.stopthethyroidmadness.com/talk-to-others )

    Reply
  6. Carrie

    Agree with Marina. At Randall’s pharmacy (or perhaps it’s Safeway in your area) the wonderful pharmacist told me it’s $4 on the Randall’s savings plan (no cost) and $20 on my insurance. Duh, it does not go on my insurance. It’s worth calling around to some pharmacies for price comparison.

    Reply
  7. Karie

    It doesn’t surprise me one bit that United Health Care would do such a thing as they are also my insurance carrier through my employer. In the past year I have wondered why I even bother using them as their prices have gone up considerably across the board. I have adult ADHD and UHC suddenly decided that I am too old to take the ADHD medication that my doctor prescribes me. So yes, I would advise Wendy to check pharmacy retail prices instead of using her insurance. I bet she will find the cost a lot less.

    Reply
  8. Tom

    I quit the VA’s synthroid because it did no good. Armour thyroid has been reformulated, weaker since a year’s absence from the market and now I have my desiccated dried thyroid compounded for me. Regretfully, you can’t trust brand names for thyroid any more.. I’m out of the depression now and taking the weight off once again. You really need the t1, t2, t3, and t4, as well as free t’s.

    Reply
  9. Dana

    Try a compounding pharmacy. Mine doesn’t file insurance for me, but I only pay around $20 for my armour 90 mg 30 day supply.

    Reply
  10. DC

    My insurance company has never covered Armour or Naturthroid. I pay out of pocket and only pay $15 for 135 1 grain tablets per month. Less than my copay. Really doesn’t matter if insurance pays for it. It’s cheap.

    Reply
  11. Andrew Poretz

    My healthcare (Oxford) does the same thing (my top tier is $75), and as a result, it’s far cheaper for me to use one of the Canada drug sites to get it — $81 including shipping for 100 doses, which is the equivalent of $.81 a day, or less than $25 a month. The site I use though now sends me part Erfa from Canada and part Armour from the U.S. (it was all Erfa for the past six months of medicine.) I’m only in my first month of this combination, so still assessing this change.

    Reply
  12. Lorie

    I don’t use my insurance for my thyroid meds either. I have UHC+Medco for rx’s. I order across the border and get Erfa thyroid. Right now, the out of pocket expense isn’t an issue. But it sure would be nice if I could deduct all moneys spent on meds + supplements.

    Reply
  13. Juli

    Well yes in a way; my insurance pays $4.00 and I pay $20.00 for my Naturethroid – 90 days of 3 grains/day. Last year when it wasn’t available from my insurance, I used K-Mart and paid $25.00 for the same amount. Insurance wants to send me Armour all the time and I had to refuse it before they would send Naturethroid.

    Reply
  14. Elizabeth

    It really sucks for people on disability when insurance won’t cover natural dessicated thyroid and they can’t afford to pay for it – I was charged 33 dollars for 30 90mg Armour Thyroid pills at CVS Pharmacy last fall.

    Reply
  15. Anita

    Drugstore.com has a 90 day supply of Armour for $36.00.

    Nature-Throid is cheaper. An independent review upheld my Medicare Part D plan’s refusal to cover Nature-Throid because it is not FDA approved and so illegal to be provided. It is too cheap to allow me to appeal further.

    On the other hand,I tried to buy Armour (as instructed by United American) and when insurance was denied, I requested Armour be covered…and it was even though it, too, is not FDA approved last I heard. A 90 day supply will be less than $12 through their mail order supplier Merck Medco.

    Reply
  16. Johann Mitchell

    I had been getting Armor through my insurance free, but suddenly they started charging me about $6. I called my insurance company and they said that Armor Thyroid “is not an FDA approved drug” so they wouldn’t pay for it.

    According to my pharmacy (CVS) I’m paying full price for it, so if you’re paying more than about $6, I suspect that someone’s making extra money off you.

    Price it at a different pharmacy. WalMart and Target are advertising low prices. Maybe they’d be able to help.

    Reply
  17. Lynn M.

    I buy my Nature-throid from drugstore.com. The price varies depending on the dosage and how many pills you order at one time. You can get the price from their website.

    I paid $47.22 last month for 270 65 mg. (1 grain) Nature-throid pills. When my refills run out I’ll get my doctor to write a script for a year’s worth of pills so it will be even cheaper.

    Reply
  18. Randi Hilary

    (Dec 2011) Just got a letter from my health insurer stating “ARMOUR THYROID is one of the drugs that is excluded from Medicare coverage by law” supposedly “under section 1860D-2(e)(2) of the Social Security Act”…when used to treat certain medical conditions…unless it is covered by a plan as a supplemental benefit(!!!). Has anyone else run into this, and if so, what can be done?

    (From Janie: Yes, that is an unfortunate and stupid law. What you can do is buy it full price—it’s cheap.)

    Reply
    • Donna

      Full price is NOT CHEAP. They wanted $12 for 14 pills at cvs cuz Medicare Part d doesn’t cover it.

      Reply
      • Janie

        Donna, there was a probably a misunderstanding by you or the Pharmacist, as desiccated thyroid is cheap. i.e. some people are only paying in the teens for a month’s supply of their particular amount. Others in the twenties if they need more.

        Reply
  19. Sara

    I finally got drug coverage through a part D supplement to Medicare, but I’ve been told they will not pay for Armour. I only switched to Armour about 6 months ago and for this 1st time in greater than 20 years my lab levels were adjusted, even a bit high….which proves to me I am absorbing it much better.

    So now I’ve been told I need to consider going on Levoxyl or going to a drug from Canada, not sure what it is though. Very frustrating since my body finally got a bit straightened out in that regard, now I face going backwards again. I can’t afford to pay for it.

    Reply
  20. Melissa

    Try Nature-Throid, which is a generic form of Armour. Keep in mind that the most expensive part of medication (typically) is the filling part of it. So if your doctor will prescribe a 3 month or 6 month supply, it will save you big time. When I was on a half grain my month supply was $12. When I was prescribed 1 1/2 grains my 3 month supply was $27, and this was at the local grocery store pharmacy, versus Walgreens, Rite Aid, or CVS where I know I can get it much cheaper. My insurance won’t pay for anything natural…including docs that perscribe natural, BUT my hashimotos is worth every penny of natural that I pay for. And I’m not rich or even middle class, organic, vegetarian, or “all natural”. I just want to feel good, and this is the medicine that found my energy and my lost motivation.

    (P.S. From Janie: Naturethroid is not a generic. It’s simply another brand.)

    Reply

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