Published August 26th, 2019 by Stephanie
If you’re one of the millions of Americans that spend an average of $1200 per year on medicine, and you’re not in the top 30% of the country’s earners, making more than $100,000 a year, then you already know that the stress that can come from prescription drugs. This is a necessity in order to keep you, or a loved one in your family healthy, and yet at the same time, it can be a consistent, significant drain on finances when you’re juggling other commitments like a mortgage, car payments, student loans, or trying to put something away for a future college fund for the children.
If you’re trying to stretch your dollars and be more careful with your finances, one way to ease the strain is to join discounted prescription networks. These can often mean the difference between paying full price on the prescriptions people need and sometimes even avoiding the higher prices that co-pay insurance policies force on some people as a side-effect of comprehensive coverage.
So what are discounted prescription networks, and how can you take advantage of them?
To understand what discounted prescription networks are, and how they operate, it’s important to get a better understanding of the entire pharmaceutical industry and understand that it is very wealthy, and in no danger of running out of money. Unlike other countries, such as Canada, the have government-imposed laws mandating the affordability of drugs; the American government has taken more of a hands-off approach to pharmaceutical companies here and how they charge prices for their medicine.
As a result, a dosage of insulin in Canada, while the same dose, under a different brand name, is $300, simply because pharmaceutical companies set prices as they see fit, and see no reason to make it as high as possible and still make a sale.
Because of this, the true value and affordability of medicine in the USA is often obscured and inflated by the business deals and alliances struck by the pharmaceutical industry, medical insurers, and the pharmacies themselves. A profession within the pharmaceutical industry, known as Pharmacy Benefits Managers, or PMBs, are the “middlemen” that often create the lists of medicines need for hospitals, pharmacies, and the public, and then negotiates between the various interested parties like insurers and chain pharmacies, to set the prices of these drugs.
This creates certain “blind spots” within the pricing structure of medicine where discounted prescription networks can step in and provide some alternatives.
A discounted prescription network is an organization that allows people to pay lower prices on their drugs and medications, as long as they are a member of that network. They manage to do this by using the power of “bulk.” As a larger organization, with a lot of money behind them, they can negotiate with PMBs on much larger amounts of drugs.
Because of the size of the “purchase” that such a network would make, the PMBs are more inclined to agree to a deal with these networks, knowing that it will bring in much business. Once that deal is in place, this now allows prescription networks to charge lower prices to their members for the medications or drugs they need to purchase.
Discounted prescription networks operate for a variety of different reasons, under many different business models. Some may offer a subscription or membership fee. People that join these networks are helping to fund the discounts by paying the network itself some money in exchange for a range of discounts. Other networks, however, are free. This may be because of municipal or state groups—or even government agencies—that are trying to make medication more accessible and more affordable for average or low-income families.
To maximize the benefits from discounted prescription networks, it’s important to draw the lines for what you need and what the network offers, and see if those factors align. If you join a discounted prescription network, for example, hoping to get a discount on insulin, only to find that this is one of the medications that is not covered by their range of discounts, then membership does nothing for you.
In the same way, you should make sure you know what’s available to you locally, at the state and possibly even at the national level. Discounted prescription networks may be available for your town or city alone, or you may benefit from an existing state-wise network, and then are nationwide networks. See whether they support the medications you need, and look into the costs—if any—that are required to be a member and start enjoying discounts.
Remember that another important—and inconsequential—factor of pricing for medications is branding. When you pay a higher price for a recognized brand name, you are paying for that brand name recognition and the familiar packaging that comes with it. Generic brands have the same ingredients, in the same proportion, with the same effect, but are cheaper. If this is combined with other tactics, such as the lower prices that may be offered from verified online pharmacies, that can afford to charge even lower prices due to a lack of physical storefronts to maintain; then a generic purchase can make for some significant savings.
When you go to a place like the USA Rx website, and join this type of discounted prescription network, you may enjoy discounts in over 60,000 pharmacies in all 50 states, with discounts of between 10% and 75% depending on the medications involved. But there are always ways to get even more value. Always look at what your discounted prescription network is offering, and then take things further by seeing where you can get even more value for your hard-earned dollar. You or a family member may need vital access to a drug or medication to live a productive life, but that doesn’t mean you can—or should—be expected to pay the maximum amount for a prescription that doesn’t need to be that expensive.