Drug Discount Cards Help You Save on Prescription Meds

How to use drug discount cards the smart way.

ByABC News
August 20, 2012, 8:22 AM

Aug. 20, 2012 -- How would you like to save up to 70 percent on your prescription drugs? It's possible through little-known drug discount cards, often available for free. I'm sure those of you with no prescription drug coverage just perked up, but this is good news for other folks, too, such as those who take a medication that's not on their insurance company's covered list.

The website ConsumerWorld.org recently did a small study of prescription drug discount cards. Founder Edgar Dworsky obtained five different cards offered through AAA, AARP, the National League of Cities, UNA Rx and Simple Savings. The last three are available for free online.

Dworsky then took those cards to CVS, Costco and an independent pharmacy. There, he checked the prices of four commonly-prescribed medications, two name brand and two generic. His savings ranged from zero to 71 percent, depending which pharmacy and which card he used. Dworsky says the average savings was 16 percent.

Here's one example that shows the wild range of prices. Dworsky priced Simvastatin, a generic cholesterol drug, at CVS.

Cash: $39.99

UNA Rx Card: $39.99

National League of Cities Card: $33.30

Simple Savings Card: $19.02

As a fascinating aside, Dworsky says when he priced Simvastatin at Costco, the chain's regular price was far lower than any of the discounted prices he obtained elsewhere. Costco charged him $5.90 when he paid cash and took another dollar off if he presented an AARP card or Costco's own prescription drug savings card. Consumer Reports has done price comparison surveys that found Costco's prescription prices are the best deal overall. And the good news is that you can fill a prescription at Costco even if you're not a member.

Getting back to prescription drug discount cards, Dworsky said, "If you don't have prescription coverage, you would be foolish not to get one of these cards, particularly the free ones, because it is such an easy way to save money."

However, he said choosing a card is painful because no one card nets the lowest prices on all medications. Some get you a great deal on one med but not on another.

What to do? If you regularly take certain maintenance medications, it would be worth your while to obtain several drug discount cards, like Dworsky did, and conduct your own little study. Use the card/pharmacy combination that gives you the best deal. If you take multiple meds and one card offers a better discount on one and a second card helps more with another, then use both! After all, they're free! In fact, to my amazement, Dworsky found that free prescription discount cards garnered better deals than those that cost money!

There's much more detail in the ConsumerWorld.org article and I recommend reading it here.