The cost of medicine is notoriously high and only getting higher. But there are many different options at your disposal to try and get a discount on these necessary expenses. The price of pharmaceuticals has been rising faster than inflation, leaving people without health insurance or enough cover with ever-increasing bills. Even if you have insurance, you might find yourself paying out-of-pocket expenses for medications, but there are ways to get discounts.
Instead of going without the medications you need or making difficult choices over what you spend your money on, reducing your medical bills is possible. And with almost half off of Americans needing to fill at least one prescription every month, it’s a problem that affects a lot of people.
We’ll take a look at one way that you can save money on your medicine: discount cards. We will look at what they are, all the pros and cons as well as possible alternatives.
What are Rx Discount Cards?
Medication discount cards have been created to provide low-cost medications to patients who are paying for their own drugs. While these cards don’t cost you any money to acquire, they can offer big discounts.
Whether you have insurance or not you can still use the card to make a saving on out-of-pocket medical costs.
How Discount Cards Work
These discount card-saving programs sometimes negotiate bulk drug deals with pharmacies or wholesalers. With just a simple card or through the savings program app, customers can get discounts from participating pharmacies on the medications they need.
Sometimes the discount cards are operated by companies that work as pharmacy benefits managers. These PBMs are a liaison between the pharmaceutical manufacturers, pharmacies, health insurance plans, and the patient. The larger the PBM is the greater the purchasing power it will have and the greater leverage it can use to get discounts.
These discount cards are free because the company that provides them is paid a fee by the pharmacies when a patient takes advantage of the discount. The pharmacy is willing to pay this referral fee because they probably wouldn’t get the customer in their store otherwise, and they might make other purchases at the same time as their prescription drugs.
On top of those advantages, it makes sure that people who are uninsured are more able to afford the medications they require. These will be customers that wouldn’t otherwise have visited the pharmacy so it is a benefit to the drugstore.
The insurance card will allow you to compare prices between pharmacies because the cost of prescriptions can vary greatly between stores. Even if you have health insurance it is a good idea to compare your copay costs with the possible discounted prices. You might discover that you are better off using the discount card instead of the insurance copay.
How to Use Discount Cards?
The exact process for your savings card provider may be slightly different, the basic premise is largely the same and includes the following steps:
- Download the card or app from the savings program website or app store
- Search online or on the app to find where your medications are cheapest
- Travel to the pharmacy to buy your medicine
- Show the savings card or app to the pharmacist
- Pay the discounted price
This gives you immediate savings on your prescription brand or generic medications. You can use the card for the rest of your family as well. If you check for the best savings, you could find savings of hundreds of dollars on medications every year for your family.
How to Choose a Prescription Discount Card?
There are quite a few discount card programs to choose between and they aren’t all the same. Some will get you discounts at a larger range of pharmacies than others, for example, GoodRx is accepted by over 70,000 pharmacies.
Other discount cards might offer better savings, like RxSaver with up to 85% off prescription charges. If home delivery is important, some offer it as part of an extra program, though Blink Health doesn’t.
Before you choose which one you’re going to go with you can check customer feedback to see which one is consistently meeting users’ expectations. Since most of them are free to join you could even sign up for a few you and test them out.
Pros of Discount Cards
There are plenty of good reasons to get yourself a discount card to help cover medical costs.
- Savings. You could see discounts of as much as 80% on your medical bills. Typically the savings you will receive will be lower than that, but everything helps if you have a lot of medicine to purchase.
- Compare prices. Even if there isn’t a big discount available on your medications, the program should allow you to find the best prices locally. You might discover that one pharmacy has considerably lower prices than another without the benefit of a discount.
- Medical adherence. With lower prescription costs, there is a greater chance that you will stick to your course of medications. This will improve your health, and make sure you get the best treatment for your condition.
There are some disadvantages to having a discount card. Let’s take a look at some of the issues:
- Cheaper prices elsewhere. While you will save money on normal high street pharmacy prices, the cost won’t necessarily be the lowest possible. It still might be possible to get cheaper prices on your medications if you look online, for example.
- Changing prices. While you might get a good deal on your medications one month these prices tend not to stay the same. The discount can change day to day, meaning you could end up finding that the price you expect to pay doesn’t actually materialize when you go to the pharmacy.
- Extra inconvenience. Not only do you have to check if your medications are discounted through your card before you purchase, but you might also find that you have to travel to a different pharmacy than you would normally visit. This could mean a considerable journey to get a discount which will add extra costs.
- Lower than expected savings. While the discount card will highlight the big savings you can make, you might not actually see those for yourself. Discount cards normally claim savings of up to 80%, whereas the average saving might be considerably lower than that.
You might only see typical savings of 30% to 40% on your medication. But even with more modest savings, it will certainly add up over the year if you have to buy a lot of medicine.
Alternatives to Discount Cards You Should Consider
Instead of getting a discount card, finding your cheapest local supplier, and taking a trip to buy your meds, that could be cheaper options. Buying meds online offers away to get great prices that are often less than the best discounts you’ll find through a discount card.
If you find a great online pharmacy, you could get a huge discount on your medications and all from the comfort of your own home. While you will have to wait for delivery, it might only be a few days and as long as you plan ahead a little, you should be able to avoid running out of meds.
Unfortunately, however, buying meds online isn’t without its problems. There are far too many online pharmacies out there that are selling low-quality medications or just out and out scamming their customers.
If you are unfortunate enough to buy low-quality medications it could have a serious and negative effect on your health, prolonging your suffering and ensuring your medical condition requires more drastic intervention.
When you shop for meds online, one pharmacy can look just as good as another and you might be mainly looking at the prices. But there are some things you can do to ensure you get high-quality drugs. If you make sure you read online pharmacy reviews 2021, this should go a long way to ensuring you avoid the scam artists and get the quality medications you need while still saving a packet.
All too often scam pharmacies can appear on the face of it to be very professional, and if you don’t know what to look for you can be deceived. You might check for customer reviews and find glowing reports that give you confidence in the drugstore, but that might be a mistake.
Many online scam pharmacies use fake customer testimonials to make themselves seem more reliable than they actually are. And even if you carefully read through this feedback it can appear genuine and less you know what to look for.
Buying your meds with the help of a discount card is a great way to cut the cost of your prescriptions. The really good thing about these cards is that they are free to join, though some may try to upsell you to a premium version of their program with added benefits.
However, no matter how good these discount cards are, you could get better discounts while shopping online for your meds. Just as long as you check online pharmacy reviews 2021, you should be able to avoid the pitfalls associated with that.