December 9, 2012 – The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports on the confusion caused by the flood of pharmacy discount cards that arrive daily into patients’ mail boxes.
There is no question that the spiralling cost of prescription medications disproportionally affects those without health insurance, and pharmacy discount cards have for several years now provided some relief. The free cards generally do what they say they will do, providing discounts of up to 75% off of retail pricing, but those discounts vary from drug-to-drug, from card-to-card, and according to where you shop.
While there can be no doubt that these cards provide a net benefit for those who would otherwise struggle to afford their meds, this confusion mirrors industry-wide variability when it comes to drug pricing. The Post-Gazette article had this to say on the subject, “What these cards don’t offer is any reliable or easy way to figure out which discount works best for your particular medication at your particular pharmacy.”
The author continues, “One card might get a better deal on Drug A at Rite Aid, while another gets a better deal on Drug B at CVS. But generally, customers only find that out after using the cards since the pharmacies won’t disclose the discount prices and deals they’ve negotiated with each individual card marketer… The discounts shift from month to month – or even daily – depending on sales volume, customer traffic, and changes in the retail prices of the drugs.”
The Post-Gazette article addresses additional confusion caused by the appearance of the cards, which often look a lot like insurance cards or some other type of official identification. It also discusses the complicated relationships that produce such deep discounts, potential privacy issues, and “patient assistance programs” provided by pharmeceutical companies themselves.
Read the full article here: