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Websites offering discounts on prescription medications

Posted at 9:26 AM, Oct 29, 2018

We comparison shop for clothes and electronics, now you can do it with your medications.

Several online websites provide discounts on prescriptions. Patients are able to see which pharmacies offer the drug at the lowest price and their estimated savings with a coupon.

For example, using RetailMeNot's Rx Saver, the cholesterol-lowering medication Simvastatin can cost anywhere from $4 or $21, depending on which store you visit.

"Rx Saver is going to show you all the places where you can save money. So it'll pull up the CVS, the Costco, the Walgreens, everything in your area," said Sara Skirboll, a savings expert with RetailMeNot.

GoodRx, another website, also provides this service.

These websites have relationships with pharmacy benefit managers, the middlemen that help to determine drug prices, and with retailers and pharmacies that provide these discount coupons.

“A lot of people are on prescription drugs, in fact, close to 60 percent of people are on recurring drugs and 80 percent of those people are stressed out about their prescriptions meaning they're stressed out about money, how they're going to pay for them, how much they're going to cost,” Skirboll said.

Something people may not realize is that insurance isn’t always the cheapest option. WMAR-2 News was provided with a real-life example. With insurance, a patient was charged a co-pay of $30 for the same prescription, Simvastatin. Without insurance, the medication costs $12 at most drug stores or $4 in cash at Walmart. And with the coupon from Rx Saver of GoodRx, the medication costs around $5.

“We've just been so trained to think that insurance is going to take the best care of us, but in fact, sometimes, like I said, insurance just isn't the cheapest option,” Skirboll said.

Another way to pay less is to simply have a conversation with your pharmacist.

“And your pharmacist can get with the insurance company and see if there's something cheaper, if someone's really struggling. Or go through some of those avenues with copay cards, foundation help, look for some of those things. It's just really speaking up and kind of building that relationship with your pharmacist and I would encourage it,” said Kathy Vranek, the assistant director of ambulatory pharmacy with the University of Maryland Medical Center.

The Columbus Dispatch analyzed federal drug pricing data and created a lookup tool for consumers to search the wholesale price of medications. Click here to search their database.

Other things you should know:

  • If you opt to use a coupon over your insurance that money will not go towards your deductible.
  • Also, while the coupon says one price, first ask the pharmacist what the cash price is regardless of what it says on the website. These online websites make a profit from what you pay, so always ask about the cheapest option. 
  • Pharmacies have the final say whether or not they'll accept the coupon. If it doesn't work at one, try another.
  • You can use the app or print off the coupon and bring it with you.
  • And keep in mind, you could potentially be giving away some of your personal information in exchange for the savings. Instead of processing the prescription with your insurance, the pharmacist contacts the drug company offering the discount.
  • Be sure to read the website's privacy policy for more information on how data is used and collected.

GoodRx states on their site they do not sell personal medical data, instead they make their money from advertisements and referral fees. Read their policy here.

RetailMeNot Rx Saver discloses how they use personal information including for advertisements and to complete transactions. For more information, click here.