By Lisa Zamosky
Among the most common concerns I hear from readers is the high cost of prescription drugs.
There are a host of ways to save on medications, some of which I’ve discussed before on this blog.
As high deductible health plans become increasingly prevalent, more of us are on the hook for medical expenses to the tune of thousands of dollars before insurance kicks in to help us pay the bills. For people who regularly take medication, those costs can quickly add up.
Pharmacy discount cards have been around for years, and are one tool for lowering out-of-pocket expenses on drugs by giving cash-paying customers discounts more in line with what you would expect from insurance.
Today, a number of companies have put their discount pharmacy programs online and on the go with mobile apps that help you identify the lowest cost pharmacy in your area for the drug you need.
I talked with Brad Bangerter, the CEO of Lowest Med, a company that offers both a free mobile app and a new Corporate Rx Program available through employee health benefit plans. He and Leonard Grover, the company’s vice president, shared some insights about what people should know about pharmacy discount apps and how they help lower prescription drug costs.
Using Pharmacy Apps to Save
1. You can go anywhere: Lowest Med offers discounts at 60,000 pharmacies across the country, including big stores like Walgreens or Costco as well as the mom and pop pharmacies. There are other pharmacy apps out there as well, including GoodRX, RX 4 Less, Pharmacy Buddy, and RX Savings, among others.
2. All drugs available: These apps generally give you access to all FDA-approved drugs on the market. “It’s very comprehensive,” Bangerter says of the Lowest Med app. The company’s corporate app, which is only available through an employer-based health plan, covers an even wider variety of drugs, often at deeper discounts, Bangerter says.
3. Your insurer’s price isn’t always the best price: According to Bangerter, even if you have health insurance, prescription apps can save even more money. The Lowest Med app, for example, saves more money than insurance on generic drugs over 50% of the time, with an average savings of $7 to $15 per prescription.
“The insurance card you have in your wallet isn’t always the best option. It is a negotiated price, and in many cases it’s a good price, but don’t let that be your sole choice,” Bangerter says.
4. You need to choose: When you head to the pharmacy to pick up your prescription, ask which offers you the best price – your insurance plan or the discounts available with the app. You can use one or the other, but not both, when buying medications.
“In simple terms, [the app] is a secondary pharmacy program that compares prices and allows consumers to pay the lower of the two,” Grover says.
Have you used a pharmacy discount card or app? Which app have you used and did it save you money? Share your experience in the comments below.