Every year, people face price increases when paying for gas or buying eggs. These growing costs also impact healthcare expenses, especially on prescriptions and other medical supplies. Certain time periods, like negotiating changes in one’s insurance coverage or navigating gaps in coverage, can pose even greater spending challenges. With choices like prescription discount cards, rewards programs, savings clubs, and more, you may be able to reduce your monthly medical expenses. As with finding a new hearing aid or choosing a senior retirement community, there are many available options. To help, the following offers an overview of prescription discount cards, along with some examples of many common programs that may help you in your search process.
What are prescription discount cards?
Prescription discount cards offer discounts on prescription medications that people receive when they show the card at participating pharmacies. Be sure to check that the pharmacy you plan to use accepts the discount card you intend to use. Many discount providers offer physical, printable or electronic card options, and they may also provide printable or electronic coupon codes that can be shown for savings. Discount cards are not insurance plans.
Consumers benefit from bulk discounts that result from negotiations between discount providers and a network of pharmacies. These cards are particularly helpful for the following individuals:
- Individuals without insurance
- Individuals who need medications that insurance or other health plans don’t cover
- Individuals looking for the best prices on medications
- Individuals who have high deductibles
Many prescription discount card companies boast a significant percentage saved on average. However, your individual savings will vary based on the medications you need, your preferred pharmacy, the discount card company, your location, delivery requirements, and more. Your doctor or local pharmacist may be able to provide recommendations about which discount card or other savings option may work best for your circumstances.
What are the different types of prescription discount cards?
There are four main card-based discount options. Prescription discount cards offered by independent companies can be pre-activated or require enrollment. Discounts similar to those offered by prescription discount companies can be found through paid membership programs. Points programs may be combined with other offers and provide cash rewards based on accumulated points earned through prescription purchases.
Pre-activated cards and/or coupons (free)
For many of these cards, simply go to the website and click the card offer. Depending on the provider, you can choose to print the card, to receive a card by mail, or to have an electronic card texted or emailed to you. Note: some of these providers also offer a membership or enrollment. Some of the common pre-activated discount cards include:
Registration required cards (free)
Instead of having a pre-populated card, these cards below require enrollment with personal information, like names and addresses.
With these cards, you’ll pay monthly or yearly membership fees and receive discounts on common medications, as well as other savings and services like groceries or travel support that the company provides.
Points-based Rewards (free)
Sign up for a basic card, receive special offers on a variety of items, and earn points with purchases. Accumulating points when filling prescriptions sometimes requires an additional opt-in to the standard savings card. Cards in this final category do not offer discounts directly. However, they are another way to earn money back on purchases and may be used in conjunction with another prescription discount card.
How do prescription discount cards work?
Often, you only need to show the card at an approved pharmacy or present a printed or electronic coupon to one of the provider’s pharmacists to receive the discounts. However, as highlighted repeatedly on the discount providers’ websites, discounts are not insurance and typically cannot be used in conjunction with insurance. Many prescription discount providers do indicate that their prices may be even lower than designated prescription co-pays. In some cases, using the discount card for the prescription may be cheaper than any insurance reduction.
Available discounts and discount format varies slightly depending on the provider, selected service tier, and additional eligibility parameters. For example, some paid discount clubs require use at a smaller number of designated pharmacies. In general, here are some of the benefits and resources that many free, registered, and paid discount card and club offerings may provide. Be sure to carefully read any FAQs, terms, and conditions to ensure that you know which benefit(s) apply to any savings plan you select.
- Discounts at approximately 60,000 pharmacy locations, including major chains such as CVS, Walgreens, RiteAid and more
- Up to 80% off regular retail prices
- Website and app availability
- Medication search feature that can be tailored to specific store or regional locations
- Price comparison list for stores within an area offering that prescription
- Printable coupons or option to send or save coupons to app
- Unlimited card usage
- Availability to multiple individuals and pets within the same family (sometimes capped)
As you consider savings options, consider your preference for receiving those discounts. For example, if providing the posted price gives you peace of mind, then printed or electronic coupons that have card details and the anticipated price may be right for you. Others may prefer to set up all medications with reminders and quick savings searches on a mobile app.
Also, look at the additional features and resources from each discount provider. For example, some offer both a free, pre-activated card and a free, registered card, the latter may include additional app features like data storage, refill reminders, or other medical content. You may also find other bonuses like the ones below:
- Savings on dental, vision, hearing, or veterinary care in addition to prescriptions
- Additional discounts on vaccines or medical supplies
- Reduced cost on home delivery or refills
- Use in combination with store rewards cards
- Members-only deals
What are other ways to save on prescriptions and medication?
In addition to prescription discount cards from independent companies, pharmacies, and other membership programs, other savings may also be available through your health insurance company, employee benefits package, or assistance programs. For example, Humana Walmart Value Rx Plan™ offers discounted prices on medications as part of the insurance company’s benefits package. For individuals who meet a designated list of criteria, assistance programs like the Patient Access Network Foundation may be able to provide free medications or offer them at an even lower cost. Finally, a digital pharmacy like BlinkRx is another opportunity to save and have select medications delivered directly to you for free.
How do I determine the best prescription discount program for my needs?
In addition to online research, other easy to find resources exist to help you find the best prescription discount card or other savings option. For example, your doctor, local pharmacist, and/or insurance agent may be able to provide specific recommendations tailored to your health, current medications, or specific insurance benefits. Additionally, suggestions from the comprehensive care providers, local senior centers, or even friends might help you learn which cards work best in your area or based on experience and peer reviews. If you are looking for quick and easy discounts or a more comprehensive prescription discount card and support portal, you’ll be able to find one that works for you!