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Prescription savings programs come in several forms. They include manufacturer-sponsored programs, pharmacy-specific savings plans, and prescription discount cards. They can save money on your prescription meds. But it’s good to know exactly what you’re signing up for before deciding if they’re right for you.

Where to Find Them

Manufacturer discount programs. These are also called manufacturer-sponsored prescription coupons. Pharmaceutical companies use them to point you to specific brand-name drugs. Usually, you combine manufacturer coupons with commercial insurance to lower your copayments for a period of time. The best way to find out if there are any manufacturer coupons available for your medication is to check the drug company’s website.

Pharmacy-specific savings plans. Several larger chain pharmacies in the U.S. have their own savings programs. These are for generic drugs only. You can’t combine these savings with your insurance plan, copay savings cards, or other discount prescription cards.

Prescription discount cards. You print these cards straight from their websites, or download an app and use the savings right away. Some of the most common cards are from companies like FamilyWize, GoodRX, SingleCare, Blink Health, and ScriptSave Well Rx. Most of these cards are free. They’re accepted at tens of thousands of pharmacies across the U.S. They often offer home delivery, and some even provide online doctor visits.

 

 

Benefits

Saves you money. The most obvious perk to savings programs is getting your prescriptions at a lower price. Discounts vary between programs, but it may be possible to save up to 85% on some of your prescription meds. This can be especially helpful if cost is a barrier to getting the meds you need.

Easy to compare costs. You can look at how much your prescriptions will cost across the different savings programs online or before buying. This information is available online or through various apps. 

Simple to use. After you submit your prescription, you show your prescription savings card or manufacturer coupon to your pharmacist, and they apply the savings. You have to have your card or coupon with you at the time you pay for your prescription. You may be able to show your card or coupon from a mobile app on your phone.

Available broadly. It’s likely you’ll be able to use a savings program at your regular pharmacy. (However, shopping around at other pharmacies may help you cut costs.) But pharmacy-specific savings programs only work at the pharmacies that offer them.

Free to sign up. Most drug prescription cards are free, so there’s little or no risk to try out several different types. 

 

Downsides

Some can’t be combined with insurance. You can’t use a prescription discount card along with your insurance to save more money. That means any money you spend on prescriptions using a discount card won’t be applied to your insurance deductible or out-of-pocket maximums. So your savings in the short term may not be worth the cost long-term.

You may not always get the same savings. Costs of prescriptions go up and down. You may pay one price one day and a different price on another. Call to check on pricing the day you go to the pharmacy, so you’re not surprised at the counter.

Marketers may get your information. If your savings program requires you to give them your contact information, you may get marketing emails, calls, and texts. You’re also sharing data about the types of meds you get with anyone who has your information. 

Best Use of Savings Plans

These programs ultimately offer the most medication savings if you have little or no insurance or prescription coverage. They’re not insurance, but they can help lower your costs if you can’t afford your prescriptions. 

If you’re thinking of using a pharmacy savings program, try these tips:

Keep it free. Benefits of cards you pay for may not be worth the price. You can get other helpful savings cards for free. 

Try out the extras. Many of these programs offer other benefits such as a helpline or virtual doctor visits. Give them a try and see if the perks for one program edge out others. 

Compare. You can try different cards or programs to see which ones save you the most and offer the most benefit before settling on one.

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Show Sources

SOURCES:

U.S. Pharmacist: “A Pharmacist’s Primer on Prescription Discount Cards.”

Rx Assist: “About the Prescription Savings Program.”

Costs of Care: “Drug Discount Cards – Lifting the Veil of Secrecy.”