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GORHAM, Maine(NEWS CENTER) -- Pharmacies may all sell the same products and look the same but what you pay for a prescription could be wildly different depending on where you go.

Pharmacists suggest you check around at several different pharmacies and, even if you have insurance, ask about the cash price.

What's more, many pharmacies, particularly independently owned stores, will often allow you to negotiate a cash price. "Say, 'Hey, is that the best you can do for me?' " suggests Joe Bruno, owner of Community Pharmacies which operates 11 locations around Maine.

"Its happens every day," says Chris Guido, the pharmacist at Community Pharmacy in Gorham. "We can sometimes even beat the co-pay price."

Guido says he's even given drugs to families where a parent has lost a job, or are experiencing a crisis, and they pay when they can. "And they always return and pay."

Independent pharmacies tend to have more leeway like this because they negotiate their own prices with insurance and drug companies. Chain retailers negotiate nationwide prices and pharmacists there usually have to charge whatever price the company has set - even for cash.

If you normally shop at a chain pharmacy - or are required to do so under insurance - it could pay to check out the cash price at independent pharmacies.

And a change that takes effect todayto the patient privacy law known as HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) may help you saveas well.

It has to do with paying cash for prescription drugs - even if you have insurance. Consumers have always had the cash option, but until today had to notify an insurance provider - who frown on paying cash - that they were doing so. The regulations changed so you are no longer required to let your insurer know.

"The consumer has a little more power to negotiate a price, " saysBruno. "Pay what they are willing to pay."

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