Each day, millions of people in the U.S. rely on prescription drugs to overcome medical conditions such as diabetes, asthma, blood pressure, and many more. According to data from the National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey, around 49% of people in the U.S. use at least one prescription medication monthly. As prices constantly rise, the affordability of prescription medications becomes a key consideration in patient care. Prescription discount cards and drug coupons offer savings to patients who may lack insurance or adequate coverage for their generic medication costs.

Although people think that discount cards and drug coupons are the same things there are still some differences you need to be aware of before deciding on a program. Let’s look at their differences below.

Drug coupons

Manufacturer drugs coupons, also known as copay coupons, are issued by the pharmaceutical company that makes a certain brand name drug and can only be used on that brand of drug. This means that they can only be used for a limited number of refills, and there are generic medications that are significantly cheaper than the brand-name versions, which can be quite a disadvantage.

Depending on the terms of the coupon and the manufacturer, there are other conditions one should be aware of. For example, most manufacturer drug coupons exclude people with Medicaid, Medicare, or other government insurance. In addition, most coupons lower your out-of-pocket cost by a fixed amount, which can give you the best savings since the price of a drug will vary among different pharmacies.

Prescription discount cards

A prescription discount card is a savings card that generally comes from a third-party company, and doesn’t have an expiration date. They provide lower drug costs to patients paying for their medications in cash. They’re available to people whether they have health insurance or not, and there’s no cost to use them. Also, they can be used multiple times.

The discounted amount offered by this card may change, and the discount is automatically applied when you use the card to pay for a prescription. Savings programs negotiate discounts on bulk drug purchases with pharmacy owners, and consumers can access lower medication prices by using a free card or mobile app provided by the Rx savings program. When you use this card, the pharmacy compensates for the discount program. Note that discount cards can’t be used on top of insurance coverage, so it’s ideal for underinsured and uninsured consumers.

The difference between prescription discount cards and drug coupons

Discount cards have several key factors that distinguish them from coupons. For example, cards have no refill limits and they have no expiration date. In addition, note that any changes in the discounted prices are automatically applied to the cardholder from one refill to the next.

Pharmacy discount cards can be used regardless of the insurance status or whoever provided the benefit. An Rx savings card, for example, cannot be used in combination with an insurance copay when buying prescription drugs. In case your Rx card has a lower price than your insurance copay for a specific medication, then you can use the card rather than your insurance when buying the drug.

Which one would be best to use?

Getting to understand the differences between discount cards and drug coupons can help you decide which one would be best for you to use. In addition, it would be best to compare prices before you purchase your prescription because the cost of the medication may be cheaper with a manufacturer coupon or a prescription discount card. Note that other things might affect how much you pay for the medication including your location, the pharmacy you go to, and whether you’re paying for a generic or brand version of a drug.

Prescription savings cards and drug coupons have many advantages but also some disadvantages. For example, if you have high out-of-pocket costs or don’t have insurance, a savings card or a coupon can help you lower the price of the medication to a more affordable price. To help you out, there are many online search tools that allow you to find the lowest discounted price for your medications at pharmacies nearby.

Final thoughts

Medicine has evolved, and pharmaceutical companies can develop drugs to aid with some of the most common medical conditions from cholesterol and pain drugs to thyroid treatments and asthma medication. As people are spending too much on their prescription drugs, a savings card or a drug coupon is much needed to help them save money on expensive medication, especially those who are uninsured or underinsured.