Amazon RXPass and other drug discount programs that can help you save money on prescriptions
HOUSTON - A recent Gallup poll found 18 million Americans can't afford the medications they need. Now Amazon is the latest to offer a discount prescription program.
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However, with so many discount drug options, how do you choose?
First, check your drug costs using your insurance, but you may actually save the most money by not using your insurance, and using a drug discount program instead.
"A lot of people are desperate, their drugs are really expensive," said Dr. Joshua Wollen with the University of Houston College of Pharmacy.
Amazon just launched its RXPass subscription. For $5 a month, it says customers can save up to 80% on generic medications, for home delivery or using its card in pharmacies. You must be a Prime Member, which starts at $15 a month.
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For a $140 annual membership, Scriptco is an online pharmacy that says it can save you up to 99% on generics, delivered to your door.
Mark Cuban's Cost Plus Drugs Company has no membership fee, offering drugs at cost, plus a 15% markup, plus a $3 fee, and $5 shipping.
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For $20 a year, Walgreens Prescription Savings Club lets you fill generics for $7 to $15 for a 30-day supply.
"They’re willing to offer you lower prices if you’re willing to commit to doing that," said Wollen.
Walmart's Prescription Program is free and sells dozens of drugs for as low as $4 a month, or $10 for 90 days.
Then there are discount cards, such as Blink Health, GoodRX, SingleCare and WellRX. The GoodRx web and app can help you find pharmacies with the lowest price, plus has coupons to save you up to 80% off generics.
Stores like Kroger, HEB, CVS/Caremark, Target, and Costco also offer their own discount drug options.
Many drug manufacturers offer discounts, too, particularly for lower-income patients. GoodRx or NeedyMeds list the manufacturer discounts.
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For lower-income patients, RXAssist is a database of drug prices by pharmacy and assistance programs, and Medicare’s "Extra Help" program helps pay Part D premiums and other costs.
If you don't know which plan to choose, simply start with your pharmacist.
"Your pharmacist can help you know if a discount card is right for you," said Wollen. "They can point you in the direction of them, and if there are other drugs in the same class that are less expensive."
You can also ask hospital social workers to help you find ways to save on prescriptions. Prescriptions can be paid for pre-tax using FSA and HSA accounts.