by Aidan Kang, CFA
Senior Writer
Insurance
UPDATED: October 13, 2022

If you're like most people, you've probably taken antibiotics at some point in your life. And if you're also like most people, you also probably didn't have to pay anything for them as they were covered by insurance.

But what if you do not have insurance? How much do you need to pay to get antibiotics? These are just common questions that many people ask when they have been prescribed antibiotics or even when they just suspect that they might have a bacterial infection.

Surprisingly, the answer isn't as straightforward as you might think. There are several factors that affect the cost of antibiotics. To learn more, read our blog post below.

Average Cost of Antibiotics Without Insurance

Antibiotics are a type of medication that's used to treat infections. And while they're often prescribed for things like strep throat or a sinus infection, they can also be used to treat more serious infections, like pneumonia or UTI infection.

If you need to take antibiotics, you may be wondering how much they cost. If you don't have insurance, antibiotics can be a little expensive. How expensive? That depends on the type of antibiotic and where you buy it from.

On average, you can expect to pay around  $20 to $60 for a one-time prescription of common antibiotics without insurance. However, depending on the specific drug, the cost can climb up to several hundreds of dollars for expensive antibiotics! The exact price will depend on several factors including:

  • the type of antibiotic you need to take
  • whether you're buying a generic or brand name drug
  • the length of treatment
  • the  pharmacy or store you buy it from
  • your location

Take note that the longer the treatment, the higher the cost will be. So, if you're prescribed a 10-day course of antibiotics, you can expect to pay more than if you were prescribed a 5-day course. You have to be aware, however, that it's critical that you complete the full course of treatment, even if you're feeling better.

Cost of Common Antibiotics Without Insurance

To give you an idea of how much common antibiotics cost, we've listed down average price ranges of antibiotics in the United States. If you do not have insurance, then you will have to pay the full price for these antibiotics.

GenericBrand nameAve. CostUses 
CiprofloxacinCipro$30.14inexpensive drug used to treat infections of the respiratory and urinary tracts, skin, eyes, abdominal cavity, and bone and joints; diarrhea; gonorrhea; sinusitis; pneumonia; prostatitis; anthrax
AzithromycinZithromax$148.61expensive drug used to treat infections of the respiratory tract and skin; STDs; otitis media; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; pneumonia
CephalexinBiocef, Keflex$24.95inexpensive drug used to treat infections of the respiratory and urinary tracts, skin, and bone; otitis media
ClindamycinCleocin $77.92moderately priced antibiotic used to treat infections of the respiratory tract, skin, and abdominal cavity; acne; pelvic inflammatory disease
MetronidazoleFlagyl, Protostat$16.52inexpensive drug used to treat infections of the vagina and gastrointestinal tract
*The costs of the drugs are sourced out from https://www.goodrx.com/ and *The uses of the drugs are sourced out from https://www.britannica.com/science/antibiotic

In addition, urinary tract infections are the second most common type of infection in the body. More than 8 million visits a year to health care providers are due to UTIs. But women are at greater risk of developing a UTI than are men. Fortunately, most simple bacterial UTIs are easily treatable with antibiotics. Below are the average costs of UTI antibiotics when you don’t have insurance.

Generic Brand nameDosagePrice range
DoxycyclineMondoxyne NL100 mg$41.23 – $146.79
AzithromycinZithromax250 mg$31.30 – $152.16
CephalexinKeflex500 mg$23.64 – $297.21
LevofloxacinLevaquin500 mg$116.01 – $380.63
*The costs of the drugs are sourced out from https://www.talktomira.com/post/how-much-antibiotics-cost-without-insurance

The prices listed above are just average prices. Depending on the exact drug you need to take, the price will vary. For instance, there are different types of penicillin drugs so the price will also differ depending on what you were prescribed.

How long do you need antibiotics for?

Most antibiotics should be taken for 7 to 14 days. The exact duration of therapy depends on your infection and the antibiotic you are taking. Your doctor will advise you on the length of your treatment. When buying your antibiotics, make sure that you are buying enough to cover your entire treatment period.

Even if symptoms seem to have gone away, it's important to finish the course. Not finishing a course of antibiotic medication could lead to a mild recurring infection and pose a risk to others in your household who may come in contact with the “resistant bacteria”. The good news is taking antibiotics according to directions can prevent much more serious problems from occurring later on down the road.

Can you buy antibiotics over the counter?

No, antibiotics are not available over the counter in the United States. You need a prescription first from a doctor. Antibiotics are powerful medications that affect the entire internal environment of your body so generally they are prescribed on an as-needed basis by a doctor or other medical professional after a consultation to ensure both safety and efficacy.

Because of this, it is better to consult with your physician before deciding if you should buy antibiotics. Antibiotics will work best for you under these circumstances because they'll be tailored specifically to your individual needs rather than purchasing them randomly based on what turns up in your online search results. You should refrain from buying antibiotics without a prescription as this could do more harm than good.

Do you need a prescription to get antibiotics?

Yes, you need a doctor's prescription in order to get antibiotics in the United States. Under federal law, all antibiotics should be prescribed by a doctor. This is to ensure that the drug you are taking will be effective for your condition and that it is also safe for you to take with any existing health problems or allergies that you have.

Your doctor may not prescribe antibiotics if they determine that you don't actually need them. If this is the case, your doctor will likely recommend a different course of treatment that's best suited for your specific situation. Self-medicating and taking antibiotics without proper consultation can lead to various health complications.

Do you really need antibiotics? 

It's difficult to give a definitive answer on whether someone needs antibiotics. The answer will depend on your specific condition and upon consultation with your doctor, the doctor will determine whether antibiotics are necessary.

Typically, a doctor will prescribe an antibiotic if the patient has a bacterial infection and the person has moderate to severe symptoms. For mild symptoms, the doctor may not require you to take antibiotics.

Antibiotics are also prescribed when they are deemed to be the most effective course of treatment or when the problem could not be resolved with other forms of medication.

How can you save money on antibiotics?

If you do not have insurance, paying for your prescription antibiotics out-of-pocket can be quite costly. So what is the cheapest way to buy antibiotics without insurance? There are some ways that you can explore to get antibiotics at a lower cost.

Here are some money-saving suggestions if you're purchasing antibiotics.

  1. Compare prices at different pharmacies – Different pharmacies will have different prices for drugs. Before purchasing any medication, check at least two to three nearby pharmacies. You can also check online for prices. 
  2. Look for available discount coupons –  There are often discount coupons available for antibiotics. Try searching the web for a discount coupon before you purchase your medication. These coupons can give you huge savings. You can check WebMDRx, GoodRx, SingleCare, and RxSaver for discount coupons.
  3. See if there are generic equivalents available –  There may be a generic equivalent to the brand-name antibiotic that your doctor prescribed. If so, ask your doctor if it's okay to switch to the generic drug. By purchasing generic drugs, you can save a large amount of money because they are often less expensive than their brand-name counterparts. However, not all medications have a generic version so you should always consult with your doctor before switching any prescription medication to a similar generic drug.

Buy Antibiotics at  the Cheapest Prices

Antibiotics are a great way to fight bacterial infections and it's important to follow your doctor's advice if you have been prescribed to take these medications. If you don't have insurance or if it's not available to you for various reasons, you can follow our tips to get antibiotics at a lower cost. Remember to always consult with your doctor before starting any new medication.

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