Published October 3rd, 2019 by Stephanie
Different Americans live and work at different levels of health, and this affects the demand they have for medicine in their lives. Some Americans are very lucky to have good general health that more or less takes care of itself. Even without rigorous exercise, or a careful diet, these Americans remain very healthy, and the only time they encounter the significant expense of medicine is when they temporarily fall ill or undergo a medical procedure, where a doctor prescribes medication to help speed recovery.
Other Americans don’t have this kind of safety net of good health to rely on. Some Americans are diagnosed with permanent conditions that must be managed for the rest of their lives. Children with asthma, senior citizens with heart conditions and people of all age ranges diagnosed with diabetes are examples of people that must, for the rest of their lives, rely on a constant supply of prescription medication to maintain functional health, and even stay alive.
Wealthy Americans can absorb this added, lifetime expense easily, no matter expensive the medicine may be. Other Americans may be lucky enough to work at companies that provide a range of benefits, including comprehensive medical insurance coverage, with co-pay mechanisms in place to help mitigate costs. However, there are other Americans for whom this isn’t an option. What do you do if you don’t have a financial safety but need a prescription for vital medication that can also be a big drain on your limited finances? One way to get some help is to use a prescription drugs discount card. Here’s how it works.
As surprising as this may be to hear, there aren’t any laws in place in the USA to enforce the affordability of medication. A pharmacy—whether it is a small owner/operator based in a neighborhood or a board of investors running a national level chain—has complete control over how cheap or expensive medication can be. The only thing that determines what the price is on medication is either the conscience of a pharmacist trying to help out neighbors or the profit-loss statements of a business trying to maximize yearly revenue.
This is one of the reasons why Canada, which does have laws in place to enforce affordability, only charges $30 for insulin, while the same dosage, with identical quality, costs $300 in the USA. Pharmacists do it because there’s nothing to stop them. This means the price you pay medication in the USA often means orders of magnitude of pure profit for pharmacies and pharmaceutical manufacturers.
This is where a prescription drugs discount card comes in. There is a “middle man” in the pharmaceutical industry known as the Pharmacy Benefits Manager, or PMB, that brokers deals on pharmaceutical products between the manufacturers, and the pharmacies that sell the product. Some organizations buy bulk amounts of the pharmaceuticals under special deal conditions. One of these conditions can be the implementation and acceptance of a discount card.
This means that when someone who owns a prescription drugs discount card presents this document at a participating pharmacy, a deduction will be made to the final sales price of the medication. That discount will vary depending on the medicine, but the one thing that doesn’t change is that with a discount card, shoppers pay less than they would without it, especially if they are uninsured.
A prescription drugs discount card will always be part of a program, such as a prescription network, and that means for the card to be recognized, and have the discount applied, it requires a pharmacy where the purchase is made to be affiliated with that program.
In some cases, this is pretty straightforward. Some big businesses that operate at the national level will have the prescription networks that they maintain only at their own retail outlets. The largest retailer in America, Walmart, and the second-largest pharmacy chain America, Walgreens, both have prescription networks that people can join, then receive cards from. However, this does mean that a holder of a Walmart card will only get that discount applied at Walmart outlets with pharmacies, and it means that Walgreens cardholders can’t go to any other pharmacy for the discount, only Walgreens will honor it.
Another option for people that don’t want to tie themselves to a particular brand, especially if there are major budgetary hurdles to deal with is, to look at assistance programs at the municipal or state level. Depending on where a person lives, there may be prescription network programs available to help people that fall below a certain income level and require medicine. In some cases, these programs may also have specific qualifying factors, such as a family with a child that requires access to medication. People with more limited financial circumstances should always try to look into these options in their area. It may mean the difference between paying $30 for a one-month prescription or only $4.
Another option for people looking for a prescription drugs discount card is to go with a national level affiliate program that doesn’t limit itself to any one retail outlet, such as the USA Rx website. This card has many benefits, including being free, whereas some cards, like the Walgreens card, require a regular, annual membership fee be paid.
Because this card isn’t tied to any one retailer, it also has a much broader range. While Walmart’s card is recognized at 11000+ outlets, and Walgreens is valid at over 9000 outlets, the USA Rx card is recognized by over 60000 pharmacies in all 50 states of the USA. That includes both bigger chains, and smaller independent ones, providing much more flexibility for people when it comes to their available buying options. The card also bestows significant discounts on a huge range of drugs, so depending on the medication you need, you may enjoy anywhere from 10-75% off on the medications required.
Medication can be an important but pricey fixed expense in your life. If you want to save more, try looking at your prescription drugs discount card options, and start saving more when you buy your medication.