DRUG DISCOUNT CARDS: ARE THEY WORTH IT?

THINKING of getting a discount card to help take the sting out of sky-high prescription drug prices? Make sure you shop for the best deal, say experts.

An ENQUIRER investigation has discovered that the cards can save you money, but you have to find the one that’s right for you.

“The cards offer real savings,” noted Charles Inlander, president of the People’s Medical Society, “but you have to do a lot of work to get the best price.”

The three main types of cards are:

  • Pharmacy Discount Cards — They are good only at the issuing pharmacy and charge an annual fee.
  • Discount Cards from private companies and nonprofit organizations — They can be used at participating pharmacies. There is an annual fee.
  • Pharmaceutical Manufacturer Cards — They have no annual fee, but are limited to Medicare recipients with no prescription drug coverage who meet income eligibility requirements. And the card applies only to the company’s prescription drugs.

    To pick the best card, Inlander suggests:

  • Check your prescription drugs to find out who makes them. If you are on Medicare and in a lower income bracket, contact the appropriate pharmaceutical companies about their cards.
  • Compare pharmacy retail prices for the drugs you take, choose the pharmacy that gives you the best deal on what you take, then determine which card will give you the best discount at that pharmacy.
  • Continue monitoring retail prices for changes. It may be worthwhile to switch when your current card expires, since drug prices fluctuate.
  • Make sure that what you are saving on your prescriptions is more than what you paid for the card. — GWEN CARDEN

    How the plans Stack Up

    BELOW is a comparison chart prepared by the Medicare Rights Center (MRC) of some of the best known card plans. You can find out more by going to MRC’s Web site at: www.medicarerights.org or calling them at 212-869-3850.

    AARP MEMBERRX CHOICE PROGRAM
    www.aarppharmacy.com
    1-800-439-4457
    Discounts for AARP members. AARP membership plus $19.95/person annual fee. Shipping and handling fees apply. Discount depends on the drug.

    COSTCO
    www.costco.com
    1-800-955-2292
    Discounts for Costco members. On-line pharmacy also available. Gold Star Membership: $45/family annual fee. Executive Gold Star Membership: $100/family annual fee. Discount depends on the drug.

    GSK ORANGE CARD
    1-888-672-6436
    Must have no other prescription coverage. Annual income must be less than $26,000 (single) or $35,000 (couple). Discounts on GlaxoSmithKline products only. No fee. Up to 30 percent discount depending on the drug.

    LILLYANSWERS PROGRAM
    www.lillyanswers.com
    1-877-795-4559
    Must have no other prescription coverage. Annual income must be less than $18,000 (single) or $24,000 (couple). Discounts on Eli Lilly and Company products only. No fee. $12 per prescription up to a 30-day supply.

    RXSAVINGS PLUS FROM ADVANCEPCS
    https://rxsavingsplus.com
    1-800-511-1314
    No fee. 20 percent average discount depending on the drug.

    MEDCO HEALTH
    www.yourplan.com
    1-877-733-6765
    $25/person or $40/family annual fee. Discount depends on the drug.

    NOVARTIS CARECARD
    www.novartis.com
    1-866-974-2273
    Those over 65 who have no other prescription coverage. Annual income must be less than $26,000 (single) or $35,000 (couple). Discounts on Novartis products only. No fee. 30 to 40 percent discount depending on the drug.

    PEOPLES PRESCRIPTION PLAN
    www.peoplesrxcard.com
    1-800-566-0003
    Discounts on drugs, eyeglasses and hearing aids. Dental plan also available. $7.95/family monthly fee Up to 50 percent discount depending on the drug.

    PFIZER FOR LIVING SHARE CARD
    www.pfizerforliving.com
    1-800-459-4156
    Must have no other prescription coverage. Annual income must be less than $18,000 (single) or $24,000 (couple). Discounts on Pfizer products only. No fee. $15 per prescription up to a 30-day supply.

    PRESCRIPTION BENEFITS, INC.
    www.rxbenefits.com
    1-800-377-1614
    $48/person or $60/family annual fee. Up to 90 percent discount depending on the drug. RXDRUGCARD www.rxdrugcard.com 1-888-216-2461 $45.95/person or $49.95/family annual fee. Discount of up to 80 percent, depending on the drug.

    TOGETHER RX
    www.togeth errx.com
    1-800-865-7211
    Must have no other prescription coverage. Annual income must be less than $28,000 (single) or $38,000 (couple). Discounts on select Abbott, AstraZeneca, Aventis, Bristol-Myers Squibb, GlaxoSmithKline, Janssen, Novartis and Ortho-McNeil products only. See Web site for list of covered drugs. No fee. 15 to 40 percent discount depending on the drug.

    NATIONSHEALTH FROM UNITED STATES PHARMACEUTICAL GROUP
    www.uspgi.com
    1-800-977-9655
    Discount plans include drugs, dental, vision, hearing, diabetic and respiratory supplies, and chiropractic care. Mail order service also available. No fee. Up to 21 percent discount depending on the drug.

Comments