Discount Prescription Plans

Written by Sarah Provost
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For several years, prescription drug prices have been rising by more than four times the inflation rate. Meanwhile, the number of people who have insurance coverage for prescription medications is declining by about one million people a year. With prices rising and coverage shrinking, how can we keep the costs of necessary medications manageable?

Granola, for example, costs less when you scoop it from a bin in a store that sells products in bulk than it does when wrapped in one-pound packages. Similarly, bulk purchasing can help bring down the cost of prescription medicines. Since we don't have the option of scooping our Lipitor or Synthroid from a barrel or bin, how can we take advantage of bulk purchasing?

Prescription Drug Cards and Mail Order Programs

If you enroll in a prescription drug card plan, you will pay a monthly fee. When you present your card at your local pharmacy, you will receive your medications at a discount, which can vary from 10 to 50 percent. This is possible because the insurance company or private administrator that issues the card has negotiated with the pharmaceutical companies. In exchange for all the plan's business, the drug manufacturers agree to reduce prices.

Mail order prescription programs can also offer reduced prices through bulk processing and purchasing. They also provide larger orders, usually a 90-day supply as opposed to the 30-day supply offered at local pharmacies. Of course, if you have a strep throat today, you don't want to wait for your antibiotics to arrive in the mail. Mail order programs are primarily used for maintenance drugs required by chronic conditions. In addition to the savings you receive, mail order can also be very convenient, especially for senior citizens or others who find it hard to get to a local pharmacy.

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