The high cost of medications can be prohibitive for patients trying to fill them. Frequently, people are forced to go on and off their medication depending on when they can afford to pay for them. Cheap medications and cheap prescription drugs are possible! Are you interested in hearing about how to save money on prescriptions? I will tell you about 4 great ways.
- Do you pay cash for medication?
- Are you uninsured or have a high deductible plan?
- Do you know the cost of medication varies greatly among different pharmacies?
- If you have insurance your co-pay may be more expensive than the cost of paying out of pocket for the medication!
Why does the cost of medications vary between pharmacies?
Wow is this complicated! There are so many different factors and players involved. Due to lack of transparency, it’s hard to know who to blame. Wikipedia has a good general overview of different contributors to medication pricing.
Is it the pharmacy benefit manager’s (PBR) fault? The PBR is the middleman negotiator between some pharmaceutical companies, insurers, and pharmacies. Some PBR’s prohibit pharmacists from telling patients that it is cheaper to pay cash for a medication than use their insurance! (Read more about this here).
Is it the pharmacies’ fault? Pharmacies negotiate their own rates with suppliers and set their own profit margins. Also, pharmacies often set cash prices with insurance companies in mind. Since the majority of people filling prescriptions are using their insurance the priority is to not charge less than what the insurance company is willing to pay. For more on how prescription medications get their prices read this article in Newsweek.
How to save money on prescriptions:
I’m going to introduce you to FOUR programs that can save you money on medication!
(FYI- I get a small commission if you order from YouDrugstore. I am recommending these programs because they help save money for my patients which I think is awesome.)
Cheap Prescriptions Through GoodRx
There are different ways to use GoodRx. You can get a general discount card to bring to the pharmacy, print coupons from your computer, or download the app so you can compare the prices at different pharmacies in real time.
I recommend downloading the app because then the coupon is on your phone and you know which pharmacy is the cheapest to go to.
Be a smart shopper! Compare the cost of medications.
There is a big range in prices at different pharmacies but with GoodRx you can see ahead of time what the cost will be. Make sure you compare prices for each of your medications as the price may be cheap for one medication but expensive for another.
On the GoodRx app it is as simple as looking up your medication and comparing the prices at different pharmacies. When you get to the pharmacy click on the coupon in the app and it will bring up codes that the pharmacy can scan. It works!
Here is a quick video explaining how GoodRx works: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=2&v=9qkXs768JKY
GoodRx now has a Gold program that is $9.99/month which includes up to 6 family members. They claim to save even more money off of their regular reduced prices so if you fill lots of prescriptions it may be worth looking into this program.
YouDrugstore: Another great source of affordable medication
I have patients who have been ordering medications from Canada for years and saved a lot. They have had no choice because it is the only way they could afford their medication. The price differences are appalling to me and I just can’t get over how the same medicine can cost so much less right over the border.
Don’t just order from any online pharmacy tho. You need to make sure it is reputable and certified so you know you are getting the medication you are ordering.
YouDrugstore is a licensed, certified Canadian pharmacy with a great reputation. They will mail your medications to you if you have a valid prescription. They have a doctor that verifies all prescriptions before they are fulfilled. They do not supply controlled substances.
You can check out this pharmacy HERE to compare prices.
This pharmacy can save those of us in the United States “up to 90% off the cost of necessary prescription medications & over the counter products needed for good health, wellness and quality of life.”
Per YouDrugstore the medication is “sourced from Canadian suppliers to ensure it is manufactured to the strict quality, safety & efficacy standards both Canadians & Americans expect and deserve.”
Cheap Medications Through WellRx:
WellRx works the same as GoodRx. It is best to download the app and search for the cheapest pharmacy to get your medication. At the pharmacy, click on the coupon in the app to get the medication for that price.
Although WellRx and GoodRx are very similar some medications may still be less expensive on one or the other. It may be worth your time to run the medication through both of these apps to see which coupon saves the most.
Cheap Prescription Drugs Through Blink Health:
With this program, you search for the prescribed medication and pay online at Blink Health. Print out your receipt, bring it to the pharmacy, and pick up your medicine without having to pay anything to the pharmacy.
There are certain pharmacies that participate in the Blink Health program. Click on the link and search for a list of local pharmacies by putting in your area code.
Here is a quick video explaining how Blink Health works:
Comparing Cost of Medications:
I compared the cost of a few different medications if you pay cash at the pharmacy (not using insurance), use a GoodRx or WellRx coupon, or buy the medication at Blink Health. Prices fluctuate so this chart is a general example to demonstrate the difference in prices.
When comparing the cost of medications from Canada, YouDrugstore, sells by the “pack”. Make sure you pay attention to the quantity as it may look more expensive but really is a 90-day supply.
Remember there is a large range in both the pharmacy cash price and GoodRx/WellRx price so it is important to check the pharmacies in your area to find the cheapest.
|Medication||Cash price range||GoodRx/WellRx range||Blink price|
|Escitalopram 20 (Lexapro) #30||$11-$131||GoodRx $9-$50 WellRx $9-$52||$9.85|
|Methylphenidate ER 27mg (Concerta) #30||$252-$326||GoodRx $105-$204 WellRx $149-$266||$260.47|
|Methylphenidate 10mg (Ritalin) #30||$29-$121||GoodRx $14-30 WellRx $14-31||$27|
|Buproprion XL 300 (Wellbutrin XL) #30||$21-$140||GoodRx $17-$52 WellRx $20-$73||$24|
|Ambien 10mg #30||$15-$54||GoodRx $9-$15 WellRx $7-17||$7|
How to save money on prescriptions? YouDrugstore, Blink Health, GoodRx, and WellRx are great options for cheap prescription drugs!
Because of the lack of pricing transparency at pharmacies, it is difficult to be a smart shopper unless you use programs like these. Even if you have insurance it is worth it to compare your co-pay to the cash price. If your medication is generic it may be cheaper to buy the medication without using your insurance.
Do you shop around for medication prices? What discount programs do you use to save money? How much money have they saved you? Let me know!
PSS. If you like to save money, here is a great blog with 76 helpful tips on how to save money each month.