Think prescription prices are off the charts? You’re right. Think the system benefits Big Pharma at the expense of consumers? You’re right. Think you’re stuck with these prices and there’s nothing you can do about it? Well, this time you’re wrong. You can beat the system if you know how to play the game. It’s not a secret; it’s right there on your computer and your phone, as close as a click.
The name of the game is “Discount Prescription Cards.” Here’s what you need to know to play.
According to VeryWellHealth.com—an award-winning resource for credible, fact-based, and up-to-date health and wellness news—as much as 66 percent of the US adult population uses prescription drugs. So, it is disturbing to see the cost of medications rising faster than inflation.3 2019 Kaiser Family Foundation Health Tracking Poll noted that “approximately one in four adults finds it difficult to pay for their medication. Nineteen percent do not fill their prescription, 18 percent take an over-the-counter drug instead, and 12 percent cut their pills in half or skip doses.”
Also from VeryWellHealth.com: “If you don’t have health insurance, or your insurance doesn’t cover your medications, a prescription discount card can be a money-saver, giving you access to discounts and savings at pharmacies across the United States. The discount programs here are all worth a look, but GoodRx rises above the rest. Not only is it the most widely accepted prescription discount program (it’s accepted at more than 70,000 pharmacies), but it also offers the best prices and most significant savings on widely prescribed medications. For a fee, its premium membership program also delivers additional savings and convenience features.”
VerywellHealth’s choices for the Best Prescription Discount Cards of 2023 are:
- Best Overall: GoodRx
- Best for Local Pharmacy: Optum Perks
- Best for Future Savings: SingleCare
- Best On-the-Go: ScriptSave, WellRx
- Best for Home Delivery: Blink Health
MyRxPlans.com stresses that “a drug discount card isn’t the same as a membership card for your prescription drug insurance coverage, if you have it. If you have Medicare prescription drug coverage, you typically can’t use drug coupons or discount cards when you buy prescriptions using your Medicare plan.”
Here are MyRxPlans.com’s nominations for the ten best prescription discount cards:
- GoodRx Gold
- America’s Pharmacy
- Kroger Rx Savings Club
- Optum Perks
- Walgreens Prescription Savings Club
- Choice Drug Card
Retirement Living, an online website that covers buyers’ guides, senior living, and financial advisors, evaluated multiple prescription discount cards based on a variety of factors. According to the site, discount cards are not the same as health insurance and no two programs are exactly alike. It’s a good idea to compare programs to find the best plan for you and to carefully read and follow the directions in order to save the most money. Savings on generic drugs are usually much higher than on name-brand drugs.
Retirement Living’s choice of five Best Prescription Discount Cards for 2023:
Admittedly, these three sources comprise a very small sampling of websites that compare, analyze, and recommend “the best prescription discount cards.” But there is considerable overlap in the information they provide, as well as the plans they endorse. A more thorough Web search will introduce you to many others. Based on what I have read, here are my important takeaways:
- The increasing cost of medications is a problem for the 66 percent of Americans who depend on prescription drugs.
- Prescription discount cards provide an effective way to save money on medications, especially generics.
- All of the sources cited above have done an intensive comparison of discount programs before making their recommendations.
- Discount cards are not the same as health insurance, but they can often be used in addition to insurance. You can’t, however, use drug discount cards when you pay for prescriptions through your Medicare plan.
- No two drug discount programs are exactly alike, so compare programs to find the best plan for your needs. Then, carefully read and follow the directions for your plan in order to save the most money.
- Good Rx, Good RX Gold, and SingleCare appear on all three lists of the best programs; BlinkHealth, OptumPlus, and WellRx are on two of them.
One Caveat—The theory behind discount prescription cards is simple and straightforward: They help you save money, and you can have a wallet full of them. In practice, however, it takes time and organizational skills to determine which card is the best one to use for a particular medication at your chosen pharmacy. Sometimes, it does seem to be a hassle. But if can think of it as a game that is going to pay off in hard cash, you won’t mind spending a little time sorting through the cards.
Here is a personal example: I picked up a new prescription yesterday at Walmart. The pharmacist applied my GoodRx discount. The cash price was $143.02, but with GoodRx, I paid only $23.26. That is a savings of $119.76.
I rest my case.