Using Discount Cards and Manufacturer Coupons

Roni Shye
Roni Shye, PharmD BCGP BCACP, is a licensed pharmacist in the states of Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
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You just got your prescription, and you’re heading to the pharmacy. Will be too expensive? Is there anything you can do to lower the price? Do you really need the medication?

Let’s discuss using discount cards and manufacturer coupons to help you save on the prescriptions you need.

What is the difference between a pharmacy discount coupon and a manufacturer coupon?

Pharmacy discount coupons can save you up to 80% off of the cash price of a prescription.  They work especially well for consumers who don’t have health insurance or who require payment assistance. For consumers who have insurance, pharmacy discount coupons can help decrease the cost of non-covered drugs, avoid quantity limits or other insurance restrictions and sometimes simply be lower than your insurance co-pay.

GoodRx lists a wide variety of coupons, all of which are free, printable discount cards with no obligations, contracts, or fees.

Since GoodRx offers discounts from a variety of providers (along with cash and pharmacy membership prices), you can easily compare to find a better price than any individual discount coupon.

Manufacturer coupons, on the other hand, are coupons issued directly by a drug manufacturer. These coupons are generally for new and brand name only drugs. While they can significantly reduce your out-of-pocket cost, they come with a lot of strings attached, including:

It’s important to note that while manufacturer coupons decrease your co-pay, they do not decrease the cost to your insurance company, which could ultimately lead to higher premiums and greater cost to the healthcare system as a whole.

Here are some tips on using discount cards and manufacturer coupons at the pharmacy, to help you save some money and have a smooth transaction:

1. Always start by asking your doctor what the drug is for, and if there is a cheaper alternative.

For example, if you are prescribed Crestor for your high cholesterol, in many cases you can switch to an equivalent dose of generic Lipitor (atorvastatin) or Zocor (simvastatin). With the cheaper generic you’ll pay even less than the discounted price for Crestor.

2. Work with your pharmacist, and be patient.

If you have insurance, the only way for you or the pharmacy to know what your copay will be is to process your prescription through your insurance. The same applies for coupons and discount cards. Wait a couple of minutes after dropping off your prescription to see if there are eligibility requirements, any issues that need to be resolved, and what the cost will be.

3. Read the fine print.

Manufacturer coupons often require activation before use, and many require that you already have health insurance. The manufacturer might be able to use your health and prescription information to market to you. If you have insurance, your plan or your employer could end up covering the difference in cost, rather than the drug manufacturer.

4. Pharmacy discount coupon discounts can vary.

Different coupons offer different discounts. GoodRx collects a wide variety of coupons and provides you with the biggest discount for your specific prescription. Check back when refilling to confirm that the coupon you’re using is the best one for your specific prescription.

5. Use all the resources available to you and become better informed!

Do your research on your prescription, alternative medications, discount cards, and coupons. Find out if you meet the requirements of a program, and if not, what alternatives are available to you.

Remember, in most cases the pharmacist will know only as much as you do when it comes to coupons and discounts.

I hope these tips can help you save on your prescriptions!

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