By: Tim Brugger, Debt.com Financial Fitness Trainer
There was a time when it seemed virtually everyone with a full-time job, and often even part-time, had access to affordable health care. Today with the cost of health insurance growing exponentially, coupled with the last few years of economic uncertainty, many companies have opted to either increase employee’s contributions for insurance coverage or drop their plans altogether. While it’s easy to see the reasons behind these moves, the results are the same: more and more American’s are left without insurance benefits.
In many ways it’s even more concerning for the self-employed or small business owner. The cost of insurance coverage for them and their families have reached astronomical proportions. And one of the most expensive and often used aspects of medical care is prescriptions. Pharmaceutical companies, like insurance companies, have continued to increase prices leaving uninsured folks with on-going prescription needs to suffer the financial consequences.
Discount Prescription Cards
For the non or under-insured among us, one option becoming more popular around the country is discount prescription cards. The way they work is very simple.
There are two different options, but both work in a similar fashion. Upon receipt of the discount prescription card all a person needs to do is present that to the pharmacist along with the prescription itself, and they’ll receive a discount off the retail prices. How much of a discount will depend on the particular drug, but for-profit alternatives suggest a range from as little as 10% to as high as 75%. More often than not the savings will fall somewhere in the lower middle of that range.
The key differences between the two discount prescription card options are the potential for savings and the cost for the card itself.
Each card issuer negotiates their own, unique agreements with local, regional and national pharmacies. So user savings will fluctuate depending on the results of those negotiations, and the arrangements between the card issuer and the pharmacy.
The other distinction is the fees, if any, to pay for the card. There are a host of private prescription card companies that provide discounts to users for a flat, monthly fee. These will fluctuate, but most are about $20 a month along with a nominal “registration fee.” Make sure the card is available in your state, not all of them are national.
There are also programs like the one offered through the National Association of Counties (NAco) that provide residents with free discount prescription cards. According to NAco users save an average of 24% off their prescription costs. For those with recurring needs this can be significant. As with the pay-for-use discount cards the savings will fluctuate based on the drug itself.
With so many Americans either without enough insurance or none at all because of employer cut-backs or cost, a discount prescription card can be a sound alternative. But review the specifics of each card before you leap, the differences can be expensive.