Company Updates

Using a Drug Discount Card — How It Works

Dr. B offers the cheapest telehealth. The next step? Finding the lowest prescription price. Here’s how drug discount cards work and how to use them.
Different types of pills, Tablets in packs, and blister packs with colorful medicines are set on a pink background, with the fingers of a white hand picking one up.

So, you’ve had an online medical consultation and a prescription is en route to your pharmacy. Wonderful! You’re on your way to feeling better. But if insurance doesn’t cover your medication—or you don’t have insurance—what do you do?

Almost half of adults in the U.S. take at least one prescription medication every month. One in four have a hard time paying for it. So if you haven’t filled your prescription because of the cost, you’re not alone.

Fortunately, medication cash cards can help make prescription costs much more affordable.

Here’s what to know about how prescription savings cards work. And what to consider before you get to the pharmacy register.

What are drug discount cards?

Drug discount cards—or medication cash cards—are coupon cards you can use when paying for prescription medications. They can save you money if you don’t have insurance. Or they can lower RX prices if your insurance company doesn’t cover a specific medication.

You can get these discount cards no matter your income or insurance status. And they’re free—so you don’t pay any upfront costs.

Drug discount cards may also:

How drug discount cards work

Prescription prices are determined by drug manufacturers, pharmacies and pharmacy benefits managers (PBMs).

  • The PBM negotiates discounted prices between manufacturers and pharmacies. This can mean savings up to 80% off the retail price of brand and generic medications.
  • The PBM then works with marketing companies to promote the discount program. Search online for “discount drug cards” and you’ll find top competitors advertised first.
  • When a patient uses the discount card for a prescription, the discount company receives a small percentage of the profit.

Where can you use drug discount cards?

Most major pharmacies accept medication cash cards.

Just present the RX card to your pharmacist before filling or paying for your prescription. The pharmacist will enter the discount card information into their system. Then they’ll deduct the discount from your out-of-pocket medication cost.

Like all businesses, pharmacies need to attract customers with competitive pricing. Discount card programs can drive traffic and build customer loyalty. But each time a discount card is used, the discount company takes a cut of the pharmacy’s profit.

Many large pharmacy chains can afford this loss. But independent pharmacies sometimes lose money on the transaction. If you use a small family-run pharmacy, ask if they accept discount cards before filling your prescription.

Other points to consider

Drug discount cards can make a huge difference in lowering your prescription costs. With so many options out there, here are a few points to consider before you get to the register.

  • Medication costs fluctuate. Even if you use the same medication cash card, your prescription price may differ from one fill to another. Always search for the lowest price before refilling your prescription.
  • They’re not insurance plans. Drug discount cards can’t be used for medical consultations or procedures. They can’t be used with health insurance. If you have insurance but use a discount card, the cost usually doesn’t count toward your deductible.
  • They don’t always save money. Prescriptions usually cost less with insurance. If you use a discount card once, your pharmacy may keep it on your file. They may then apply it (instead of your insurance) when you fill a prescription. Ask about the lower price before you pay.
  • They don’t cover all medications. Some prescription cards also offer significant discounts for specific drugs (because they’ve made deals with the drug manufacturer).
  • They’re not subject to HIPAA. You won’t share your social security number or financial information. But discount companies are not subject to HIPAA privacy standards. So they may share or sell your personal prescription information to third-party companies.

The best drug discount cards

There are many medication cash cards out there. Some popular options include:

  • SingleCare pharmacy savings card
  • AARP prescription discount card
  • Kroger discount card
  • Walmart pharmacy discount card
  • ScriptSave / WellRx
  • GoodRx coupon cards

Dr. B has partnered with the SingleCare, CareCard and RxLess (RxLess) discount cards because we’ve seen how their prices lower prescription costs. Curious about discount coupon prices? Or pondering which is the right program for you? Learn more here.

Other medication discount options

Dr. B’s mission is to help make healthcare affordable and accessible. We offer $15 online health assessments for a variety of conditions. And we have a no-cost care program for those who qualify.

Medication cash cards can then help lower your prescription costs. But they’re not the only way to save. Here are a few other options:

Manufacturer-sponsored prescription coupons. Drug companies sometimes offer coupons for their brand medications. These discounts are often temporary—so the coupon may expire while you still need the medication. But they work with insurance plans. So they can be the best option for expensive medications.

Pharmacy savings programs. Some pharmacies offer their own discount programs (often for generic medications). They can help lower insurance copay costs. Without insurance, they can lower prescription costs for chronic conditions over time. Pharmacies are subject to HIPAA privacy standards. So they protect your personal information, too.

Patient assistance programs. Some drug manufacturers offer discounts for those who can’t afford their medications. You may even get your medication for free. Some non-profit organizations offer income-based discounts, too.

Sign up for the free Dr. B newsletter for a weekly report on the latest in healthcare + research-based advice for staying healthy and mentally well.

Related articles