|Over-the-Counter Medications: $4-$25||Prescription Medications: $10-$200|
Irritable bowel syndrome is a disorder of the large intestine that is characterized by cramping, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea. Its causes are unknown. Though IBS typically creates discomfort, it does no permanent harm to the intestines. Most IBS patients can manage their symptoms with lifestyle changes and prescribed medications, but for a minority of patients the condition can be disabling.
Related articles: Colonoscopy, EGD, Massage, Inflammatory Bowel Disease Treatment, Health Insurance
- Patients seeking medical care for IBS would start with an office visit to a primary care physician, which is typically covered by health insurance. For patients with health insurance, out-of-pocket costs typically consist of a copay of $10-$50 or more, or coinsurance of 10%-50% or more. For patients without health insurance, an office visit typically costs $50-$200 or more.
- Over-the-counter aids to help control IBS symptoms such as constipation and diarrhea typically cost $4-$25 depending on the quantity and whether the patient buys a name brand or its generic equivalent. For example, 120 capsules of the fiber supplement psyllium (Metamucil) costs $14,while six caplets of the anti-diarrheal OTC medication loperamide (Imodium) costs $5.
- For moderate to severe cases, a doctor may prescribe one or more kinds of drugs to manage symptoms, including anticholinergic medications, antidepressant medications, or antibiotics. Prescription medications used to treat IBS typically range in cost from $10-$200. For example, the anticholinergic medication dicyclomine (Bentyl) , which is used to counter bowel spasms, typically costs $49 or less without health insurance, while generic Imipramine hcl (Tofranil), an antidepressant, typically costs $16 . For patients covered by health insurance, the typical out-of-pocket cost for drugs is a prescription drug copay of $5-$30 or more.
What should be included:|
- An IBS diagnosis is generally based on a complete medical history and physical examination.
- After an initial evaluation, a primary doctor may refer patients exhibiting symptoms to a gastroenterologist for more detailed diagnostic testing. No specific test for IBS exists, but certain exams, such as a colonoscopy, may help to rule out other problems.
- Because stress can trigger colon spasms in IBS patients, therapies that help to manage negative emotions or reduce anxiety such as massage may help to keep symptoms from worsening.
Shopping for irritable bowel syndrome treatment:
- Outlets such as Costco and Walmart often sell prescription and over-the-counter drugs at significant savings. Walmart, for example, has a prescription drug program that includes certain generic drugs at commonly prescribed dosages.
- Many hospitals offer discounts of 30% of more to uninsured/cash-paying patients. At St. Joseph Hospital in Orange, CA, for example, patients without health insurance may qualify for a 45% discount off billed charges. They'll also be offered an additional 10% discount if payment is made within 10 days of receiving a bill.
- The American College of Gastroenterology and American Gastroenterologist Association offer a physician locators.
- WebMD offers a list of resources to help IBS sufferers, including message boards and online tools.
| Material on this page is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Always consult your physician or pharmacist regarding medications or medical procedures.
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