Published October 17th, 2019 by Stephanie
Some Americans are lucky in that their need for prescription medication is both temporary and short. A medical procedure or an illness is quickly cleared up when a doctor says, “Take this medication,” and after a few days or weeks, you’re well again, with no need for medicine.
However, other Americans are not so lucky. If you or one of your family members has been diagnosed with a medical disorder, then you already know that medication may be a long term or permanent expense in your family’s life. Diabetes, a heart condition, or chronic back problems, for example, can all mean that a medical situation must be constantly managed with the addition of medication. Depending on the condition and the medication required, this ongoing, fixed expense can quickly add up over the months and years.
The situation is made even worse if you don’t have comprehensive medical insurance coverage. Paying full price on life-saving medication without any financial help can make a huge impact on personal finances. Some businesses, however, have options to help to mitigate these costs. One of them is the Walgreen’s prescription discount card, but is this the right choice for you?
Walgreens is one of the oldest pharmaceutical businesses in the United States, having begun from humble roots in Chicago, Michigan, in 1901. Over a century later, Walgreens is still here, but, perhaps more impressively it is now the second-largest pharmaceutical retailer in the country, with over 9300 branches in all 50 states of the country.
Because of this, Walgreen’s is a familiar and trusted name throughout most of the country. In major urban centers, from Chicago to Los Angeles, it’s comparatively easy to find a Walgreen’s outlet within a few miles of any residential or retail area. Because Walgreen’s has always been about providing the medication that people need when a doctor writes up a prescription, it’s a trusted name for many Americans when the time comes to get medicine. Walgreens has always been about expert pharmaceutical advice and service; it is their area of specialization and, to some, that means they know the business, industry and medical knowledge behind it better than anyone else.
Walgreens has a program in place that offers customers a Walgreens prescription discount card. The way this works is that if you have this card, you must present it at the pharmacy when you are ready to make your purchase and buy your medication. Once the pharmacist sees that you have a legitimate discount card, that discount will be applied to your final sales price, and you pay less at the counter than you would have if no card were present.
Walgreens is quick to point out that this discount card is not, and should not, be considered a form of medical insurance. It applies strictly to people that are looking to save some money when buying medications and doesn’t apply to anything else, especially in a hospital setting.
The Walgreens prescription discount card works on a membership system. A single person pays $20 for access to the card, while an entire family—including pets—can benefit from the card for $35. This is an annual membership, so you’ll have to pay this amount again every year. Because it’s a Walgreens card, this means that no matter which branch you go to, in all 50 states, that outlet will recognize the card.
Walgreens divides drugs into different “tiers” based on which medication it is, and applies different discounts based on the kind of prescription schedule that the cardholder has. So someone that needs a prescription every 30 days for what would be considered a “tier 1” medication in the Walgreens system would pay something different from someone that has a 90 day prescription for a “tier 3” medication.”
There are many pros to using the Walgreens prescription discount card, but there are also some caveats that might be an issue to people. One big factor is that the card itself applies strictly to Walgreens pharmacies. This isn’t an issue for people who live close to a Walgreens and get their medication there regularly, but while major urban centers will always have this luxury, rural areas may not. Some people living in smaller towns and settlements may have live extremely close to a smaller, independent pharmacy while the nearest Walgreens is miles away.
Another issue is that this card does require a recurring membership fee, as well as a tiered system for how it is applying discounts. So while there are possible savings for the types of medication people need, there are also some costs built into this solution.
For people that may not feel comfortable—or have ready access—to a Walgreens prescription discount card, there are other options available. The USA Rx website is one alternative, and it addresses two of the concerns that some might have with the Walgreens card. It’s not tied to any specific pharmacy branch, meaning that while Walgreens shoppers have over 9300 options across all 50 states, users of the USA Rx card can shop at over 60000 pharmacies in all 50 states, and still have a discount apply.
The other factor is that signing up for this card is free. There’s no membership fee, no subscription, and no service charge of any kind. You don’t even have to wait for the card to be mailed to you, you can print the discount document from your computer, or even present it on your phone if you don’t feel like carrying another card around with you. Depending on the kind of medication you need, your discount may be anywhere from 10-75% off so that the savings can be considerable.
As always, the final question of which discount solution is suitable depends on you. For people that need specific medications are covered by the Walgreens card, with a Walgreens nearby as a regular stop for prescriptions, there’s no reason not to get the card. But for people that don’t fall into this category, there are still ways to enjoy discounts on medication, even if a Walgreens prescription discount card isn’t one of them.