Published November 18th, 2019 by Stephanie
Health and physical welfare are one of those things that many Americans take for granted and even ignore until something happens that pushes them out of the “healthy” category. For most people, the only things that require money are the usual living expenses, such as paying a mortgage, buying groceries every month, and saving something for a rainy day, an emergency, or even the future of children such as a college fund.
That’s why when medication enters the financial equation, some people can be severely caught off guard, and not prepared for the financial demands that medicine can sometimes make. Off-the-shelf medications to address minor issues like cold symptoms or indigestion are, as expected, relatively inexpensive. Prescription medicine, however, can be quite pricey. That’s only a minor upset for people that have a temporary condition, such as an illness antibiotic can cure, or painkillers to get over surgery. However painful the added expense of medication is for these situations, it’s only temporary.
Where some Americans can suffer is if a condition is diagnosed, with no cure, that would require lifetime treatment. A child, for example, that is brought to the doctor and diagnosed with diabetes is now facing decades, an entire lifetime, of needing to make sure money is available for regular access to lifesaving insulin. An adult who contracts a heart condition must now factor essential medicine into the budget. If you’re not a rich American, the sudden added expense of these necessary medications can have a huge negative impact on finances.
However, this doesn’t mean that people who aren’t wealthy or who don’t have a comprehensive medical insurance policy have no choice but to endure the financial disadvantage. There are ways to ease the burden of spending, but first, let’s take a look at how pharmacy pricing works.
First, it’s important to understand that laws in the USA designed to favor businesses as much as possible. As a result, when it comes to the pharmaceutical industry, the pricing of products is completely unregulated. A pharmacy can charge whatever it wants on medication.
This is in stark contrast to Canada, where the federal government there has put laws into place that mandate that medications must be affordable to the majority of Canadians. Because of this law, insulin in Canada costs $30. The same formulation of insulin in the USA is priced at $300. Unsurprisingly, many Americans who live near the border sneak across to Canada and buy their insulin there, and it’s easy to see why.
Prescription drugs discount cards can be a way for people without wealth or medical insurance to ease the financial burden of medication. In most cases, drugs are not sold directly from pharmaceuticals to a pharmacy. Instead, there is a person known as a Pharmacy Benefits Manager, or PMB, who acts as the intermediary between manufacturers and sellers. PMBs understand what both sides need, and negotiate prices based on trends in the market, and other business developments.
So if another organization comes in and arranges to buy a certain amount of medication in sufficient bulk/quantity, that means they can negotiate lower prices for the purchase, and this allows the organization to pass on those savings to select customers. These savings can come in form of a prescription drugs discount card.
A prescription drugs card is always affiliated with some organization, usually as part of a prescription network. That means for your discount to apply, the pharmacy where you present the card for your discount must be affiliated with the network the card belongs to.
This can, in some cases be simple, but limited. Some of the biggest businesses in America have their own prescription networks and offer their own cards. Walmart and Walgreens, for example, both have their own prescription drugs discount card. However, this means that the cards are only honored at the respective outlets. If you have a Walmart card, you can only use it for discounts at a Walmart store, and if you try to use a Walgreens card in a Walmart store, instead of at a Walgreens pharmacy, the card won’t be recognized, and no discount will be applied.
For people that would like to have a discount but don’t live near a major retailer, or would like discounts that aren’t tied to a specific retailer, there are other options. People with major income challenges may qualify for assistance programs either for municipal or state aid, depending on the area of residence. Depending on personal circumstances, people may also qualify for assistance due to other factors. A family that has a child that is sick, or been diagnosed with a disability, for example, may qualify for additional financial assistance when it comes to medications. Depending on the assistance, this can mean the difference between $30 medication costing only $4.
For people that are looking for national level discounts but don’t want to limit themselves to only a certain retailer, there are affiliate programs with a much broader reach. The USA Rx website, for example, operates at a national level, but, unlike some cards, such as the Walgreens card, has no annual membership fee.
Because this card isn’t linked to a specific retailer, that means it can be used at many more possible pharmacies, including some of the biggest retailers. Walmart’s card is only recognized at the 11000+ outlets around the country, while a Walgreens card is recognized at the company’s 9000+ outlets. The USA Rx card, however, is not only recognized across all 50 states, but it has over 60000 pharmacies, both big and small, that recognize and validate the discount. The discounts themselves can be quite significant, ranging between 10%-75% off the usual price depending on the type of medication sought.
So if you’re in a situation where you need to regularly renew your prescription for medication and you’re worried about how this will affect your monthly or even annual finances, shop smarter and get a prescription drugs discount card so you can start saving.