How Much Do Antibiotics Cost Without Insurance?

By Terez Malka, MD
Medically reviewed checkmarkMedically reviewed
September 9, 2022

Unfortunately, antibiotics can be costly for patients who do not have a health plan.

For example, consider azithromycin (Zithromax or Z Pak), one of the most common antibiotics used to treat a variety of infections, from pneumonia to bronchitis to sexually transmitted diseases.

While the average cost of generic azithromycin is about $32 for those who do not have a health treatment plan, the market price for its brand name Zithromax is about $73. Not many can afford the money to pay for these medications (especially the brand drugs) out of pocket.

If you’re one of the approximately 8.5% of Americans without insurance and worried about antibiotic costs, you’re in the right place.

In this article, we’ll discuss which illnesses antibiotics can treat, how antibiotics work, how much antibiotics cost without insurance, whether you can purchase antibiotics over the counter, and how to help lower the cost of your antibiotics, with or without insurance coverage. 

How Much Do Antibiotics Cost Without Insurance?

Though there are a multitude of different antibiotics on the market, some are more common than others because they treat more common conditions and illnesses and are more accessible. 

Below is approximately what you can expect to pay for common antibiotics if you do not have insurance plans and are instead paying the usual and customary price (the cash price assigned to a drug by the pharmacy). Depending on whether the drug is generic or brand name, dosage, and how many capsules you receive, the cost for antibiotics ranges between $10 and $73.

Prices are based on averages found on drugs.com website and will vary by pharmacy location. The amount you will pay will also depend on the number of capsules you are purchasing.

Generic Drug NameTypically Used to TreatGeneric Drug PriceBrand Name DrugBrand Name Drug PriceDosage
Amoxicillin Pneumonia; bronchitis; infections of the nose, ear, eye, throat, and urinary tract$10 for four capsulesn/a n/a500 mg
CephalexinPneumonia; infections of the bone, skin, ears, genitals, and urinary tract$11 for four capsulesKeflex$63 for 20 capsules500 mg
DoxycyclinePneumonia; rosacea; acne; infections of the lymphatic, intestinal, genitals, and urinary systems$13 for two tabletsMondoxyne NL$52 for 60 capsules100 mg
AzithromycinBronchitis; pneumonia; sexually transmitted diseases; infections of the ears, lungs, sinuses, skin, throat, and reproductive organs$32 for three tabletsZithromax$73 for 18 tablets500mg
LevofloxacinPneumonia; bronchitis; infections of the kidney, prostate, urinary tract, sinuses, and skin $18 for three tabletsLevaquin$27 for one tablet500mg

Can You Buy Antibiotics OTC?

Most antibiotics cannot be purchased over the counter; instead, you must have a valid prescription from a healthcare provider. 

Antibiotics can be purchased without health insurance; however, they’re often more costly than if you have an insurance plan that includes prescription coverage.

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Illnesses That Can Be Treated with Antibiotics 

Antibiotics can treat different bacterial infections, including:

Our bodies interact with various types of good and bad bacteria every day.The bacteria that can cause harm are often called pathogenic bacteria and account for around 1% of all bacteria.

Pathogenic bacteria can cause an array of different conditions, from mild to severe. Some bacterial infections are contagious and can be spread through air, food, water, and bodily contact. Viruses—including the common cold, influenza, COVID-19, herpes, warts, and infectious mononucleosis—are different from bacteria.

Because antibiotics are ineffective against viral infections, these conditions must be treated using over-the-counter drugs. Time, fluids, rest, and occasionally antiviral medication may also help treat viruses. Like bacterial infections, viruses are often contagious and can be spread from person to person.

People may also develop bacterial infections after being infected by a virus. These are known as secondary bacterial infections and include sinus and ear infections.

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Tips for Lowering the Cost of Antibiotics

While antibiotics can be costly when paying out of pocket, you can take action to reduce the cost.

Consider the following steps for prescription savings:

Choose generic medications

The average cost of generic antibiotics is often lesser than the brand versions. After being prescribed a brand name antibiotic (or any other type of drug), talk to your provider or pharmacist about taking the generic version. These drugs are equal to their brand-name counterparts in strength, quality, safety, and effectiveness. Yet they typically have a significantly lower price because there is more competition in the marketplace

Shop around

It will be a good idea to shop around. While you may not find free antibiotics, you may get the best deals. Several websites can help you determine which pharmacy store in your area sells your prescription for the lowest price. Other websites can tell you if you can get your prescription cheaper from a licensed online pharmacy with the exact price. Many of these websites, such as goodrx.com or RxSaver, also share any available pharmacy coupons to use at your local pharmacy for the prescription. 

Enroll in discount programs

To help people save pocket costs, some states give access to prescription drug assistance programs, while others offer subsidized medications and discount programs for those who do not have health plans or do not qualify for other government programs. In addition to that, you can search for “Rx discount cards”, which you can use to reduce the total cost of your prescription. In this way, you get to purchase your antibiotics as less expensive drugs. 

How K Health Can Help

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K Health articles are all written and reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, or PharmDs and are for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.

Terez Malka, MD

Dr. Terez Malka is a board-certified pediatrician and emergency medicine physician.