Published September 30th, 2019 by Stephanie
There are some Americans that are vibrantly healthy, and for these fortunate ones, medicine, while expensive, is a temporary drain on the finances. Aside from getting sick and getting a prescription from the doctor for something to speed recovery, or for people on medication after a medical procedure, it’s easy to absorb the considerable expense of medicine if it’s just a temporary measure.
But other Americans don’t have this same good fortune with health. If you or someone in your family is diagnosed with a chronic disorder, such as a back problem, a heart condition, or an illness like asthma or diabetes, this may be something you live with for the rest of your life. Also, if it requires medication to manage, that becomes a lifelong, fixed expense, just as unavoidable as food, or paying electricity, but potentially much more expensive every month.
Most Americans will, on average, spend about $1200 per year on medicine. For some, that amount is much more, depending on the conditions being treated. Some will have jobs with extremely competitive benefits, such as comprehensive medical insurance coverage, while others will have the wealth to afford these purchases without issue, or get similar medical insurance with good co-pay mechanisms in place.
For other Americans who don’t have these kinds of safety nets, things can sometimes feel challenging, but there are ways to help save money and reduce the spending on much-needed medication. Prescription discount programs are one of those ways.
Prescription discount programs can occur in a variety of ways. One of the most common is as part of a prescription network. This means that an organization has struck a deal a person in the pharmaceutical industry known as a pharmacy benefits manager. These people, known as PMBs, act as the intermediary between pharmaceutical companies, and the groups that buy the products, such as hospitals, medical insurance companies or pharmacy retailers that sell medication to the public.
PMBs are experts of the pharmaceutical industry, familiar with both the manufacturing and scientific fields of the industry, as well as the market situation, such as what pharmacies want to buy, as a result of what demand shoppers have. Because of this unique position, they can advise both the manufacturers and the vendors on pricing, policy, and other factors involving the sale of medications.
Some groups will facilitate deals with PMBs where they agree to buy medications in bulk, at an agreed-upon price. Once the PMB facilitates these sales with the pharmaceutical manufacturers, it then allows whoever it was that made the deal to price the medications as they see fit, and this can sometimes result in discounts available to the customers that belong to these groups.
For people who are interested in joining a prescription network, there are various ways to go about it. One of the most common is to join a network affiliated with a certain retailer. Walgreens and Walmart, for example, both have prescription networks where they provide a discount card to people who join. In the case of Walmart, this is free. In the case of Walgreens, members must be an annual fee of $20 for a single customer, or $35 for a family membership. In both cases, the discount card is only applicable to the outlets of the respective business.
But beyond joining prescription networks with specific retail companies, there are other options as well. Depending on where a person lives, there may be municipal, state, and Federal level prescription networks that people can join based on their area of residence or financial situation.
In some cases, a prescription network may be in place with local government agencies, as a way to help people of lower-middle or lower class incomes to deal with the very significant demands of regular access to prescription medicine. These prescription networks may look at things like income as well as the presence of a sick or disabled child as qualifying factors to receive dramatics discounts on drugs.
It can sometimes mean the difference between pay hundreds of dollars for a prescription or just $4 instead. So don’t be afraid to look into these programs and see if you, with a medical condition, or children in your family that is in need qualify for joining these types of financial assistance prescription networks.
Beyond the retail companies and the municipal or state government prescription discount programs, there are still other groups that have negotiated with PMBs and managed to secure deals that would allow them to then pass the savings onto members of the program. One such group is the USA Rx website, and it has a few advantages going for it that some of the other programs don’t offer. One of the most important is that, unlike the retail-specific prescription networks, USA Rx is “brand agnostic.” A Walgreens membership is only good at a Walgreens outlet, of which there are over 9000 around the country, while Walmart cards are recognized at the over 11000 outlets around the USA. If you try bringing either card to small, local independent pharmacy that might be closer to where you live, your discount won’t apply.
The Rx card, however, is available across all 50 states and is recognized at over 60000 pharmacies, including larger retail chains, and the smaller, owner-operated businesses that might be closer to where a person lives, especially in rural areas. All you have to do, if you’re interested in getting this card, is going to the website and either printing out the discount card, or downloading the image to your phone. You don’t have to wait for a card to be sent to you to start enjoying the discounts. Depending on what medication you’re interested in, the discount you receive may be anywhere from 10-75% off what you have had to pay as the full price for that medication.
So even if you’re not wealthy, or helped out by the co-pay program of medical insurance, there are still ways to pay less on your medication. Just try joining a prescription discount program that meets your needs.