Do Prescription Discount Cards Actually Save You Money?
Imagine if your grocery store acted like a pharmacy. Milk can only be found behind a counter, and you have no idea how much it costs until checkout. At checkout, you find that this particular brand of milk is $105, which has no relationship to the quality of the milk, but you can’t really price check it against the other brands. The weirdest part? There’s another company you’ve probably never heard of that can get you the milk for $5, but who they are and what they do is a mystery.
A drug discount card will show you how much you’ll pay for your prescription, and whether switching pharmacies or using a specific discount or savings tip will help you save money.
How Prescription Prices & Discounts Work
When you go to a pharmacy in America to pick up a prescription, you’ll pay one of the following:
1) A “cash price.” Think of a cash price like a car’s sticker price—this is what you pay if you don’t have insurance or if your insurance company won’t cover that drug (it’s not on their “formulary,” which happens more often than you’d think).
2) A “club price.” A discounted price that you get if you join that pharmacy’s club (sometimes free, sometimes requiring a paid membership). No insurance is required—you just have to join the club.
3) A “negotiated (or coupon) price.” A discounted price based on a contract between the pharmacy and an insurance company (technically, it’s called a Pharmacy Benefit Manager). If you have insurance, your co-pay is generally a percentage of that price or a flat fee ($10, etc).
The cash prices at pharmacies are usually very high, but if you know where to look, there are great discounts that can be found. Some pharmacies (usually grocery stores or big-box stores) offer very cheap cash prices for certain generic drugs. Many pharmacies publish a list of popular generic drugs with cheap cash prices. Some pharmacies even offer certain drugs for free! The problem is knowing which drugs are on which pharmacies’ lists—it’s somewhat random and drugs are added and removed frequently.
Club prices can be lower than cash prices, and pharmacies don’t always tell you when a lower club price is available. Keep in mind that club prices a) may require a membership fee and b) require you to provide some personal information to the club.
Negotiated prices are probably the most confusing part of what a drug discount organization does, but they’re also a great, easy way for you to save on your prescriptions.
Virtually all pharmacies enter into contracts with companies called Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) to provide discounted prices for the hundreds of millions of Americans who have insurance. These same contracts also allow people not using insurance to receive a smaller discount when they use a free discount coupon or card. It’s worth noting that some pharmacies will not honor coupons for controlled substances ( Adderall, oxycodone, etc.).
Most reputable drug discount organizations also provides savings tips, suggestions for alternative less-expensive drugs, information on manufacturer coupons, drug shortage and recall info, pill identification tools and much more. The goal is to make you an informed consumer by providing as much information as possible in an organized, easy-to-read way.
Will a Prescription Drug Discount Card Save You Money?
You can decide whether a discount drug card will be helpful to you by getting answers to the following questions:
- How much does it cost you to obtain the card? Some are free, but not all of them are. What are the fees, or what is the purchase price? If there are fees, are they one-time only? Or do they recur?
- Is the card honored at your pharmacy? If the card is not honored at your pharmacy of choice, are you willing to change pharmacies to be able to use their discount? If the drugs you need are available only through a mail-order pharmacy, do you have to pay additional shipping and handling costs?
- Does the card cover the drugs you take? Not every card will help pay for every drug. The more common the drug you take, the better chance you can get a discount. Some cards cover generic drugs and some do not.
Once you know the drug is covered, and that you can obtain the drugs through a pharmacy that is acceptable to you, you’ll want to check the price of the drug using the card.
Then you’ll want to ask:
- Have I compared the cost of my drug through my pharmacy with other pharmacies in my area, too?
- Can I get a lower price using this drug card than any other price I have found, even when I take into account the cost of obtaining the card, or shipping costs (if applicable)?
Once you have made the assessment for each card you are eligible for, you’ll be able to determine your best option for saving money.
Recommended Prescription Discount Company (Free)
I recommend SearchRx.
SearchRx is free, and accepted at 68,196 pharmacies, including Rite Aid, Walmart, Walgreens, CVS, Target, and many others.
How to Use SearchRx
Search the SearchRx database and pharmacy price checker for the lowest discounted prices on over 50,000 prescription drugs. Their relationship with a leading pharmacy benefit manager gives SearchRx access to the best discounted prescription prices, which are passed on to you for excellent savings.
The price of prescription medications can vary greatly – even between pharmacies in the same chain.
SearchRx gives you access to their pricing, so you can find and compare the best pharmacy prices near you.
SearchRx works with nearly every pharmacy in America, so you’ll always know you’re getting the best deal in your area.
Once you’ve found your best local pharmacy price, saving is easy. Simply print out, email, or receive your prescription coupon by text message, then present this coupon to your pharmacist when you check out. The codes on your drug coupon will be entered by the pharmacist to access SearchRx group rate prices.
It’s a very simple process: Bring your discount coupon with your prescription to the pharmacy of your choice and save on all FDA-approved prescription medications.
These discounts are available to all U.S. residents, no exceptions.
There are no deductibles. Regardless of your insurance status, (whether insured, underinsured or uninsured) you will never be charged for the use of your searchRx drug coupons.
There are no limitations or maximums. Use your searchRx discount coupon once, or a million times. There is no limit to your savings.
There are no pre-existing condition exclusions. There is no coverage refusal based on any pre-existing medical conditions. searchRx coupons are available for use for all Americans.
SearchRx is free. There are no hidden fees, or any fees for that matter. You will absolutely NEVER be charged for using the SearchRx service or affiliated coupons.
Use SearchRx even if you already have insurance: The SearchRx card is not insurance; they simply provide discounts on prescriptions.
When you go to the pharmacy to pick up your prescription, just bring both your insurance card and the SearchRx coupon with you, and ask the pharmacist to see which provides the more cost-effective option for you.
Here is a video demonstrating how SearchRx works:
Thoughts, questions, tips? Feel free to comment below.
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