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$4 Prescriptions - What You Can Do if You Don't Have Enough Money for Food and Medicine

Updated on August 11, 2014
or Food?
or Food?

Saving Money on Prescriptions

I began this study when I was helping a friend who had just lost his prescription coverage on his health insurance.

Because my friend had high blood pressure, diabetes, asthma and suffered from severe depression, he had a lot of expensive prescriptions that he had to have filled every month.

I advised him to shop at Wal-mart for the $4.00 prescriptions that were on his list; and, to get the rest from Costco.

He called me back about a month later and said that he had saved over $200.00 by following my advice.

As a relief pharmacist I have worked at many different chain and independent pharmacies. I discovered that Costco almost always had the best prices on most prescriptions, especially on generics.

Because of having had my own pharmacy for 17 years, I could tell that Costco usually bases their prescription prices on their acquistion cost, not on some percent-off of the brand name - which I consider to be an unfair practice - like most of the other chain pharmacies do.

Starting around November in 2006 Wal-Mart began to test-market selling many generic prescriptions for $4.00 for a 30 day supply. The tests were successful and Wal-Mart began to roll it out in several states.

The best list I can come up with currently indicates the plan is available in the following states: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

This program is available at all Wal-Mart, Sam's Club and Neighborhood Market pharmacies, except in North Dakota (the pharmacies inside North Dakota Wal-Mart stores are leased and operated by third-party providers).

$4 prescriptions are for up to a 30-day supply of a covered drug at a commonly prescribed dosage. Your participation in certain prescription-drug plans may entitle you to pay even less than $4 for certain prescriptions. If you are eligible, you will be charged the lowest applicable amount. Certain drugs are priced higher in CA, CO, HI, MN, MT, PA, TN, WI, and WY due to state laws.

The list of covered drugs is subject to change. Not all prescription drugs are covered by this program.

Only prescriptions initially filled in person at a participating pharmacy are eligible for the $4 rate; refills must also be picked up in-store, but may be ordered in person, online or by phone. This program is not available for prescriptions filled by mail order. See your Wal-Mart pharmacist for more information.

** Discount pricing on certain prescriptions not available in CA, CO, HI, MN, MT, PA, TN, WI, and WY due to state laws at the date this is written.

A current list of the $4.00 prescriptions from Wal-Mart can be downloaded as a pdf file at

Costco did it for a while, then decided to alter the plan in some places to 100 tablets for $10.00. In most cases, this is actually a better deal on a per pill cost.

* Because of a ruling by the Board of Pharmacy in North Carolina, you don't have to be a member of Costco in order to get prescriptions from their pharmacy. I'm sure it's the same in many other states.

Many prescription insurance companies have $10 and $20 copays on generic prescriptions. In those cases you would be better off leaving the prescription card behind when it comes paying for the $4.00 prescriptions that we have been discussing.

I hope this helps a lot of people who are having to decide whether to buy food, or medicine, because they don't have enough money to get both.


You can also click on the following link for more information about other drug-related topics: Bob the


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    • katiem2 profile image

      katiem2 7 years ago from I'm outta here

      I'm so impressed with you and your efforts to reach out and help us who really don't know these helpful facts! Thank You! Trying times require such angels as yourself. Love and Peace :)

    • itakins profile image

      itakins 8 years ago from Irl

      Very generous information-sad that people have to make a choice between food and meds!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 8 years ago from Houston, Texas

      It is good that there are less expensive alternatives out there for people who need medications. If a doctor orders something not on the list of approved medications (if one has insurance) or if not generic, one can always ask if there are not alternatives that would do much the same thing as far as medical outcome. Sometimes doctors just push the latest drugs and that is not always necessary. Good hub.

    • Gypsy Willow profile image

      Gypsy Willow 8 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

      Very useful tips. Thanks for sharing.

    • DiamondRN profile image

      Bob Diamond RPh 8 years ago from Charlotte, NC USA

      Thanks for your comment, Dolores. I like your articles.


    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 8 years ago from East Coast, United States

      Bob, what great tips. It's awful that medicine costs so much and you can say what you want about Walmart but what they have done with these Rx's is wonderful. I can not believe that some states do not allow it. That is disgraceful. They allow it here in Maryland.

    • profile image

      belfast maine 9 years ago

      Great Hub you have here :) Please check out my Belfast Maine website would love to network!

    • DiamondRN profile image

      Bob Diamond RPh 9 years ago from Charlotte, NC USA

      Thanks, Glenda. I hope we can help some people with this information.

    • Gandree profile image

      Gandree 9 years ago from Florida

      Hi Bob, I'm not generally a fan of WalMart but it's good to know they did something right. I'll post a link to your hub on my blog. Maybe together we can get the word out to those in need. Seems like your heart gets bigger every day. Thank you. :0)

    • DiamondRN profile image

      Bob Diamond RPh 9 years ago from Charlotte, NC USA

      Thank you!

    • Ms Sooz profile image

      Ms Sooz 9 years ago from Northern California

      Your articles have really impressed me! You come off well-informed, and I think that most people do not pay attention to what their doctors prescribe. My husband is in the same situation as your friend, he has diabetes and is on 2 insulins, has high blood pressure and has anxiety disorder and severe depression. Thanks for the advice.

    • mnguru profile image

      mnguru 9 years ago from nairobi, Kenya

      hi nice article sounds like you have two qualities that i like so much. firstly your experience in pharmacy and then your heart to help. Am currently trying to drive the same kind of passionate appeal here in Kenya but our options are not that many, so am trying to from some network of people to share ideas on how to improve health provision in kenya and since in many ways we are like the other third world countries, i believe that the lessons we learn can then be transferred to those countries. I have therefore started a website called that discusses health issues together with other developmental issues. i also work in a volunteer organisation that organizes medical camps in the rural areas. i wonder how we could work together and share ideas

    • Bonnie Ramsey profile image

      Bonnie Ramsey 9 years ago from United States


      Great hub! You can also add Mississippi to your list that ahs the $4 plan at WalMart. Also, many Fred's Pharmacies in MS have the plan as well. Thanks for sharing!


    • Mystic Biscuit profile image

      Mystic Biscuit 9 years ago from Phoenix, AZ

      Ecellent information. In southern Nevada, Smith's pharmacies are also offering the $4 generic perscription pricing. Possibly this is also the case in UT as well? I am not sure, but cetainly worth checking out.