- Health Care, Drugs & Insurance
Saving Money with FREE Prescription Discount Cards
The Need For Discount Cards
Many patients around the country do not have, or have insufficient, prescription medication insurance. The result is that many patients do not take the medication they otherwise need. In a study conducted by Consumer Reports just a few years ago, 45% of patients under 65 who did not have insurance said that they had not filled a prescription in the past year because of the cost.
As a pharmacist I come face to face with this reality every day. I work with patients and their physicians to try to find affordable options for more expensive medications that they cannot afford. One tool that I often recommend is the use of a FREE prescription discount card. There are many such cards available. In this article I want to explain what they are and how to use them.
The Medication Card
What are Prescription Discount Cards?
One of the most under-appreciated and underutilized tools to save money on prescription medications that are not covered by insurance are prescription discount cards. These cards are typically provided FREE and are often distributed in doctor's offices or available through associations with national organizations like AAA or AARP.
Prescription discount cards are typically owned by PBM's (Pharmacy Benefit Managers). They are not insurance. Rather, when presented to the pharmacy, they are utilized to provide individual patients with the same sort of substantial discounts that are negotiated for by the PBM's with pharmacies.
How Can They be FREE?
We don't like what we don't understand. Most people, even many health care providers, don't understand how these cards work and why they are free. They seem too good to be true, and that makes some people suspicious. When someone offers you a substantial discount for "free" our natural instinct is to wonder what the catch is.
But it really isn't complicated. Allow me to explain.
If the pharmacy would ordinarily charge $85.99 for a prescription medication (known as their "usual and customary" price) then you might (just as an example) get the medication for $65.99 when you utilize a FREE prescription discount card.
A small portion of that $65.99 will go back to the PBM who operates these cards. That is how they stay in business and why they can offer YOU the card for FREE. The pharmacy accepts the lower price because they would rather make SOME money on the prescription than NO money (assuming the patient decides they don't want it). In a sense, everyone wins. The patient gets a lower price, the PBM gets a small fee, and the pharmacy gets the sale and opportunity to serve this patient by providing them this prescription, and possibly other sales that are generated because the patient shops in your store.
Prescription Discount Cards
Have YOU Ever Used a Prescription Discount Card?
Have You Ever Used a Discount Card?
Many patients could use a prescription discount card and save substantial amounts of money on their prescriptions, but fail to do so because they are unsure of how these cards work. As a pharmacist I typically encourage my patients to use them as I know from experience that they will be more likely to fill, and refill, their prescriptions which they need if the price is more affordable.
What about you? Have you ever used a prescription discount card?
Examples of Prescription Discount Cards
The Medication Card
Which One Do I Recommend?
As a pharmacist I have literally seen dozens of the prescription discount cards. Some claim to save patients a LOT of money, and actually provide very little benefit at all. My personal favorite is The Medication Card. It seems to provide a substantial discount (15% to 85% depending on the medication) and it is accepted at most major pharmacy chains.
The Medication Card does not disclose any of your private health information. All the pharmacy will need from you is a copy of this card, and your phone number, in order to process the claim.
However, this is not the only card that is available, and consumers are welcome to shop around and pick another one if they like.
Who Can Use These Cards?
- Patients without insurance
- Patients in an insurance "gap
- Patients whose insurance doesn't cover that medication
- Pets of patients
When to use a FREE Prescription Discount Card
Patients with insurance coverage may not need to use one of these cards. However, there are times when even an insured patient may want to use one. For example, if you have a substantial deductible to pay, you may want to use a discount card to help reduce your cost.
Also, PETS are a great opportunity to use these cards. Our pets often need medications and we seldom have insurance to cover them. A prescription discount card can help to substantially reduce the cost of filling their prescriptions.
The high cost of prescription medications can sometimes lead to low levels of adherence (meaning that the patient does not take the medication as they should). There are many other causes of poor adherence too. Watch this brief video on some of the other reasons for failing to take medication as directed.
How Do I Do It?
So, how exactly do I use one of these prescription discount cards?
First, simply print one of these cards for FREE from any of the online sources mentioned above (see links I provided).
Second, take this printout with you to the pharmacy the next time you need to fill a prescription that you have to pay for out of pocket. Show the printout to the person you speak to when dropping off your prescription or ordering your refill.
Finally, notice the savings that you enjoy when you pick up your medication!
In summary, a FREE prescription discount card can save you money on your next prescription and make taking your medication more affordable. These cards are not insurance, and there is never any cost to the patient to use them.
Printing these cards out online is easy, and most companies will also mail you a card to carry in your wallet for future use. So don't skip your medications due to the price. Check out the savings available through one of these prescription discount cards and begin saving today.