How to save on prescription medications


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The pandemic has spurred more Americans to do their shopping online, and shopping for medications is no exception. In addition to the mail-order business of big chains such as CVS and Walgreens and established online vendors such as Amazon and Costco, there are many online pharmacy newcomers, including GeniusRx, Honeybee Health, Ro Pharmacy, ScriptCo Pharmacy and Mark Cuban Cost Plus Drug.

But shopping for meds online is not the only way to save. Here are some others.

1. Use GoodRx coupons at a walk-in pharmacy

GoodRx is a company providing free coupons that give you discounts on meds. Available on its website or via the GoodRx app, the coupons can save you 80 percent off the list price of generic drugs at certain pharmacies. For more savings, consider joining the GoodRx Gold program, which gives you access to more than 1,000 meds for less than $10 per prescription. An individual membership costs $10 a month; for $20 a month you can add five family, friend or even pet members.

Bonus: Primary Gold account holders also get telehealth doctor visits for as little as $19.

How to save money with a prescription discount program

2. Check out discount programs at Walgreens and Walmart

Signing up for the Walgreens Prescription Savings Club Program lets you fill prescriptions for hundreds of generic drugs for $7.50, $10 or $15 for a 30-day supply, or $15, $20 or $30 for a 90-day supply — no insurance needed. The membership costs $20 a year for an individual or $35 for a family. Walmart’s free Prescription Program makes dozens of drugs available for $4 for a month’s supply or $10 for a 90-day supply.

Bonus: Supermarkets such as Kroger, H-E-B, and others also offer discounted generic drug programs. Check those in your area for details.

3. Look for generics offered by your insurer

If you have an Aetna health insurance plan, for example, you can use the Aetna Rx Discount Pharmacy Card at participating pharmacies in the insurer’s network to get preferred rates.

Call the number on the back of your insurance card to find a pharmacy near you. Or if your drug coverage is through CVS/Caremark, you can get discounts on several dozen select generics if you fill the prescription at a CVS pharmacy or through

Are doctors prescribing generic drugs often enough? This group says no.

4. Search for co-pay coupons or patient assistance programs

Getting a discount on the cash price of a branded drug is a little trickier than for a generic, but it is still possible.

Drugmakers offer co-pay discount programs if you sign up, but only if you have insurance. For people whose income meets certain thresholds, a drug company’s assistance program may supply drugs free, even to some people without insurance.

You’ll find manufacturer discount programs for branded drugs on the GoodRx website or app.

Bonus: Check out NeedyMeds for free assistance with finding and filing the paperwork for many manufacturer programs.

5. Ask your local drugstore for a discount

Unlike chain pharmacies, which have set cash prices, your community pharmacy may have more leeway with pricing medication, says Doug Hoey, chief executive of the National Community Pharmacists Association. And Brandy Letson, owner of Cashiers Valley Pharmacy in Cashiers, N.C., says your local independent pharmacy can sometimes meet or even beat low prices at a chain or online pharmacy, but you have to ask.

Copyright 2022, Consumer Reports Inc.

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