My Patients Ask — What about drug discount cards and coupons?

There’s been a lot of debate about discount cards, coupons, and other prescription drug cost savings programs . . . especially with Amazon Prime’s new Rx savings card. Should you consider them? What do you need to know?

The experts at Prescriber’s Letter advise:

Discount or savings cards.  Think of Amazon Prime’s card fitting here along with those from Blink, GoodRx, and WellRx.

While they tout savings of up to 80% on brand or generic drugs, the discounts generally can’t be combined with insurance, and expenses may not apply toward a deductible.

Also, how these companies use patient information is murky and in some cases it may be sold or shared for marketing.

You should first ask your pharmacy to compare the regular pricing or in-store discounts before using discount cards.

Barb and I have used GoodRx for a number of years. I also use it in my practice to help patients find the closest pharmacy with the lowest price on their prescription drug(s).

Then, at the pharmacy, we ask the clerk to let us know the cost for the drug with our insurance or with the GoodRx discount. We compare and use the one that is lowest.

Drug coupons.  These INITIALLY lower or eliminate co-pays on brand-name drugs. But coupons may drive costs up by getting you stuck on pricey meds long-term after the coupons expire or benefits run out.

Think of coupons as an option when a pricey brand-name prescription may be needed only short-term such as a direct oral anticoagulant that’s planned for just 3 to 6 months after a blood clot.

Also, co-pay coupons can NOT be used with gov’t funded prescription insurance, such as Medicare.

In general, I do not use or recommend drug coupons.

Assistance programs.  These are offered by some states or drug companies but benefits vary.  For example, some provide medications at no cost to patients with limited coverage or no insurance.

But assistance programs can connect patients with costly treatments such as cancer drugs, hepatitis C medications, insulin, etc. However, the paperwork can be cumbersome, approval may be slow, and they usually require periodic renewal.

You can find out more about drug assistance programs at RxAssist.org.


© Copyright WLL, INC. 2021. This blog provides a wide variety of general health information only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from your regular physician. If you are concerned about your health, take what you learn from this blog and meet with your personal doctor to discuss your concerns.

 

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