A prescription discount card allows the cardholder to save on prescription drugs they purchase from their local pharmacy. It can be used in place of health insurance to make medication more affordable.
Prescription discount cards are typically seen as a win-win-win scenario for customers, drug companies, and pharmacies. Customers able to afford medicine they may not otherwise be able to; drug companies in turn widen their customer base; and pharmacies get people in the door to sell non-medication products and services.
Like a health insurance network, prescription discount cards have a network of participating partners that allow them to negotiate lower prescription drug prices. Rather than presenting insurance information when filling a prescription, the cardholder presents their discount card to potentially receive further marked down prices.
Discount cards can be used in place of health insurance. Depending on the prescription discount card program, the cardholder may pay for their medication upfront and pick up their medication from their pharmacy, or may pay the discounted price at the time of filling their prescription.
Membership costs for prescription discount cards depend on the individual program. Many programs are free, and participants pay only the cost of filling their prescription. However, some programs, like the Walgreens Prescription Savings Club, have annual membership fees for individual and family plans.
Prescription discount cards are not insurance, and should not be considered a complete replacement for health insurance coverage. Discount cards can be obtained whether or not the cardholder has insurance.
If a cardholder does not have insurance, many prescription drugs are prohibitively expensive. Prescription discount cards and reduce drug prices substantially in some cases.
For cardholders who do have health insurance coverage, the cardholder will have to decide whether to use their health insurance or their discount card. If prescription prices are subsidized by an insurance policy, the discount card cannot be used. However, cardholders can choose to use their prescription discount card in place of their health insurance when filling a prescription.
Why would someone choose to use a discount card instead of their health insurance?
It’s important to note that if the cardholder has a flexible spending account or health savings account, prescription discount cards can be used in conjunction with them to pay for the medication.
There are many options for prescription discount cards, and there are few limitations on where someone can apply for them. Many services such as Blink Health and ScriptSave have wide third party networks, allowing cardholders to fill their prescriptions at thousands of pharmacies around the country.
People can also look to specific pharmacies for discount cards; national chains such as CVS and Walgreens offer discount programs. These may have additional perks, like discounts on other items bought at those stores, but drug savings are limited to those chains.