For almost a decade, pharmacy chains nationwide have offered discount generics through membership programs. When the first generic program was created by Kmart, pharmacy chains like CVS and Kroger followed suit, offering a large number of medications at a discounted rate, or even for free. The programs were classic “loss leaders,” designed to bring foot traffic into stores, where people would then spend more money on other merchandise. For consumers, they were great ways to save on some – but not all – drugs.
But we rarely hear about these programs anymore.
Recently, many pharmacies have discontinued their programs or reduced the number of medications included. We’ve seen pharmacists refuse to honor the prices listed on their membership program, and some pharmacies have made it more difficult to find program information – in some cases no longer featuring the program on their homepage. Why have these programs been discontinued?
Here’s the story.
Two years ago, prices for generic medications started to shoot up, and pharmacies began losing more money on these programs. CVS, a big player, opted to discontinue their savings program. After that, competing pharmacies no longer felt obliged to offer these savings, and many of them discontinued their programs or reduced the number of medications on their savings list.
It’s apparent that the landscape is changing, and $4 generics may be a thing of the past. So how do you continue to save at the pharmacy?
Pharmacy membership programs, also known as prescription savings clubs, offer customers discounts on generic medications, pet medications, and other select medical supplies and devices. Most of these programs require a membership and charge a fee, but some, like Walmart, don’t require registration. Additionally, patients with and without insurance coverage are eligible for these programs.
Even if you take only one generic medication, these programs may be a good way to save on your prescriptions.
Which programs are still active?
It’s not all bad news. Even though many pharmacies have discontinued their membership programs, some are still active, and one popular pharmacy, Publix, just created a new one.
- Sam’s Club: Sam’s Plus members can receive hundreds of generic medications at $4 or $10 for a 30-day supply, and five select prescriptions for free. Membership is $100 annually, and does not require prescription drug coverage. Sign up online, or enroll at your nearest Sam’s Club Pharmacy.
- Walgreens: The Walgreens discount program is the most robust on the market at the moment. Members can get over 50 medications for as little as $5 for up to a 30-day supply, and can also receive discounts on vitamins, birth control, diabetic supplies, and lifestyle medications. Annual membership is $20 for individuals or $35 for families. Sign up online or enroll at your nearest Walgreens Pharmacy.
- Rite Aid: The Rite Aid Rx Savings Program offers a selection of generic medications at $9.99 for a 30-day supply and $15.99 for a 90-day supply. Membership is free, but required. Enroll at your nearest Rite Aid Pharmacy.
- Walmart: Walmart offers a selection of generic medications for at $4 for a 30-day supply, and $10 for a 90-day supply, as well as home delivery and discounts on men’s health medications and oral contraceptives. No membership is required for this program.
- Price Chopper: The Price Chopper RxAdvantEdge program offers select generic drugs at $9.99 for 100 tablets, as well as savings on allergy medications, antibiotics, and vitamins. Membership is free, but required. Enroll at your nearest Price Chopper Pharmacy.
- Winn-Dixie: The Winn-Dixie Perks Program offers a selection of generic drugs at $4 for a 30-day supply, and $10 for a 90-day supply, as well as select antibiotics for free. Membership is $5 annually per person. Sign up online or enroll at your nearest Winn-Dixie Pharmacy.
- H-E-B: The H-E-B Rewards Platinum program offers select generic medications at $4, $8, or $12 for a 30-day supply. There is no membership required. Enroll at your nearest H-E-B Pharmacy.
- Publix: Publix’s “Next Best Thing To Free” program offers a 90-day supply for select generic medications for only $7.50. Publix also has a free medication program for select maintenance medications. No membership is required for this program.
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Other ways to save
Here are some other options to keep in mind:
- Shop around. Prices at many pharmacies are constantly changing, and there are always opportunities for you to save even more. Prescriptions can vary widely from one pharmacy to the next, so it pays to shop around.
- Use a GoodRx coupon. On average, GoodRx users can save an average of 59% of the retail price. In some cases, GoodRx can even beat your co-pay.
- Use a manufacturer discount. Manufacturers often offer options for patients to save on their prescriptions, or even access a prescription for free. Check our savings tips for co-pay cards, assistance programs, and other ways to reduce your cost.
- Fill a 90-day supply. If you’re taking a medication for a chronic condition, filling more at one time can help keep your costs down, whether you’re filling at a retail pharmacy or through your insurance mail order service.
- Start a conversation with your doctor or pharmacist. If you’re having trouble affording your prescription, let your healthcare provider know so you can work together to find an alternative that works for you.