The Cost of Medication: Prescriptions Without Insurance vs. With Insurance vs. Over the Counter CBD

The Cost of Medication: Prescriptions Without Insurance vs. With Insurance vs. Over the Counter CBD

One way or another, pain requires help. 

Physical therapy can go a long way after a surgery. And traditional painkillers might stave off lower back pain or nerve damage. But these solutions don’t come cheap. Even with insurance to help offset the costs, prolonged use of painkillers like Percocet or Vicodin can break your bank. 

Maybe you’ve considered alternatives or supplemental treatment like cannabidiol (CBD) but wonder if it’s really that much cheaper than prescription pain medication. So let’s take a look at the costs of prescription medication with insurance and without insurance, then compare that to the cost of CBD.

Cost of CBD vs pain medication with and without insurance

The Cost of Prescription Pain Medication Without Insurance

For chronic, long-term pain for diagnoses like fibromyalgia, arthritis, or migraines, doctors tend to prescribe painkillers like Percocet. For those of us fortunate enough to have quality health insurance – or health insurance at all – the bulk of this cost is absorbed. 

But what happens to those of us who don’t have coverage?


Morphine is a commonly prescribed opiate used for moderate to severe pain. It can be taken as a tablet, injection, or even syrup. Morphine comes in at around $91.75 for 90 tablets. These doses are taken once every four hours, which is about four times a day. This means you will go through about 28 tablets a week, or 120 per month, costing you at least $120 per month. 

The monthly income of the average American is just under $3,000. Much of this is already allocated to other essentials, like food, rent, education, and transportation. In many parts of the country, the general standard of living can put a serious strain on that $3,000, and an extra $120 payment can quickly eat into your savings.


Like Morphine, Vicodin is generally prescribed for chronic pain, like cancer or arthritis, in addition to managing pain associated with surgery. Vicodin costs about $323 for 90 tablets, with doses taken once every four hours, or as needed. 

This being said, the average adult can expect to go through 90 tablets in about two or three weeks. That could lead to monthly costs of over $600 for a Vicodin prescription. Many people pay less for their apartment! Yet, adults all over the world have to fork over that much on a regular basis just to find pain relief.


If Morphine and Vicodin have you a bit nervous, Percocet might set you over the edge. I can’t imagine many people paying for brand name Percocet out-of-pocket, but if it did happen, the monthly bill would be devastating. 

Percocet is the king of prescription pain relief and costs about $2,986 for 90 tablets

Thankfully, insurance has the potential to help us all out. Well, some of us. And only to a degree…

The Cost of Prescription Pain Medication With Insurance

As we’ve seen, paying for painkillers out-of-pocket can take a serious dent out of your monthly paycheck. However, even the cost of insured painkillers adds up, especially over the course of a lengthy rehabilitation. If that wasn’t concerning enough, insurance might not even do all that much to help you out… so you’re left with a hefty bill and the stress of trying to talk to your insurance provider. 

For the sake of comparison, let’s look at the cost of those same opioid painkillers with insurance.


Generally, most insurance companies classify Morphine as a Tier 2 medication. This means that you can expect to pay $10-15 per refill. Considering the alternative of paying for this medication without insurance, this cost is pretty reasonable. 

Let’s see how the others fare.


For Vicodin, you may be responsible for the full cost of the drug until that deductible is met (and a partial payment even after the deductible is covered). Since many deductibles range from $500 – $1,000, this could mean you’re responsible for the full payment of the drug for about six months or more of the year!


Unfortunately, insurance will likely do the same for Percocet as it did for Vicodin. You will be responsible for the full amount until your deductible is met. If you happen to have a high deductible, you could end up spending more than $1,000 for less than a month’s worth of medication. 

Additionally, Medicare won’t even touch Percocet. So if you’re relying on government healthcare, you won’t get any financial help for a drug like Percocet.

Low cost of CBD

The Low Cost of CBD

CBD has become a popular alternative to opioid painkillers. States that have legalized medical use of CBD have seen an average reduction in opioid prescriptions of about 6% (and a reduction in fatal opioid overdoses of nearly 25%)! Even better, CBD is not habit forming, it can reduce drug cravings, and you don’t need to pop pills every couple hours to manage your pain. 

The cost of 30 tablets with 30mg of pure CBD each is about $38.00. If you’ll notice, this price is similar to morphine. However, the significant difference is the dosage. To manage your pain with morphine means taking at least four tablets per day, even more if you decide to take it more frequently. For CBD, most adults need to only take 30mg per day. This means for an average month CBD is going to cost a total of $38, saving more than $80 over insurance-covered Morphine (the cheapest prescription medication covered in this article). 

As we’ve seen, locally grown, lab-tested CBD is a cost-effective solution that will help manage your pain. For those of you who are nervous about the expense and other risks of opioid painkillers, CBD is worth a try.

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