This is Part 1 of a two-part series on how to save money on your prescription drugs. Click here for Part 2.
Medical costs in the U.S. are high and continue to grow. A major portion of these costs are prescription drugs.
In 2016, $3.3 trillion was spent on health care in the U.S. (17.9% of GDP), and $329 billion of that consisted of prescription drugs.
What can you do to save money? The first solution I recommend for everyone is GoodRx.
“But I already have good insurance“
That’s great! Even if you have decent drug coverage through your health insurance plan, I recommend you take a moment to visit the GoodRx website and enter in your prescriptions. It takes only minutes.
At worst, you’ll just verify and have the peace of mind that you are indeed getting the best price for your regular prescriptions.
However, I have found more often that not that GoodRx saves me more money than my insurance drug coverage!
I’ve written about GoodRx before, but will go into more detail in this post.
Briefly, GoodRx is a free service available on the web and as an Android and iOS smartphone app that lets you comparison shop as well as take advantage of coupons and pharmacy membership discounts.
You will be amazed by how much prices can differ between pharmacies. For example, I just did a search for Amlodipine, a common drug for high blood pressure and chest pain. Discount prices ranged from $5.34 to $26.99.
Even if you have decent prescription drug coverage through your health insurance, you may find better prices through GoodRx.
The site sometimes identifies coupons to get the best price. If you look at the example above, you will see buttons on the right for “Get Free Coupon.” Simply click on the button and show the displayed coupon to your pharmacist for your savings.
Some pharmacies offer annual prescription savings clubs. GoodRx will show you the best price if you have such a membership. Typically, the memberships cost $20 to $40 per year and may pay for themselves with just one or two prescription drug purchases.
Here’s how I typically use GoodRx:
- When notified I have a prescription ready and waiting for pickup, I go to the pharmacy.
- When the pharmacist hands me the prescriptions, I immediately enter the drug name, strength, and dosage into my GoodRx smartphone app.
- GoodRx tells me the best price for the drug at that pharmacy; it almost always is better than the price currently listed on my prescription.
- I show the pharmacist the GoodRx screen with the required codes.
- The pharmacist takes the drugs back, reenters the codes, redoes the price, then returns the drugs to me.
- I pay the reduced price and take my prescription.
If you know the precise drug, strength, and dosage ahead of time, you can look up the info beforehand and either call the pharmacy ahead, or just jump to step 4 above when you arrive at the pharmacy.
GoodRx works for pet medication as well!
A friend has a diabetic cat, and the veterinarian wanted to charge more than $200 for a six-month supply of insulin. Using GoodRx, she found insulin for half the price.
As you can see, prices for drugs can vary substantially between pharmacies. If you take prescription drugs month after month, you may save money by switching pharmacies.
Since many U.S. doctors automatically send a prescription to a drug store, you may have to instruct your caregiver to redirect your prescriptions to a different, preferred pharmacy. Although that may feel like a hassle, the savings over time could be significant and well worth your trouble.
GoodRx is free and easy to use. You don’t have to create an account or reveal any personal details or information. Consumer Reports published a worrisome report in early 2020 about potential data-sharing by GoodRx.
GoodRx responded that it would stop sharing data and posted instructions on how it uses your information and as well as how to delete data from Facebook.
Even if your data still might be shared, the savings could be too great to pass up.
In Part 2, we’ll look at even more significant potential savings if you purchase from Canada.