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A Guide to Prescription Discount Cards for Seniors

Seniors often struggle to pay for prescription drugs, particularly the more medications a senior takes, and taking into consideration the skyrocketing costs of some prescriptions. Younger seniors that are not yet eligible for Medicare possibly have difficulties paying for out-of-pocket full price prescription medications.

The Senior List provides this guide with details about prescription discount cards for seniors. Prescription discount cards potentially help reduce the cost of many prescription medications. Learn what the discount cards are, how to choose the best card for your needs, along with how to tell the difference between a legitimate prescription discount card offer and one that seniors should stay away from when researching the best prescription discount cards.

What is a Prescription Discount Card?

Prescription discount cards offer savings on prescription drugs. The savings amount varies from one medication to another and from one prescription discount card to another discount card offered by a different company.

Another factor that potentially determines whether a senior qualifies for a particular discount card is insurance. While some card offers are from companies that serve anyone and allow the user to present the card at any number of pharmacies, some cards are specific to a particular drug store or retail store with a pharmacy.

An example is the GoodRX Prescription Discount Card. The company website indicates that the card is good at more than 70,000 pharmacies across the United States. If you have a pet, they receive savings on their medications. GoodRX indicates that there is a possibility that your GoodRX cost is less than your Medicare co-pay on a particular medication.

The Kmart savings often advertised by in-store fliers and in weekly advertisements is only good at select Kmart stores. They offer $25 savings for customers that transfer a prescription to Kmart.

A major issue with the Kmart savings offered for prescriptions is one that seniors sometimes find at other pharmacies. If you have Medicare, you do not receive the advertised savings. Even if it is a drug not covered by Medicare and you have to pay full cost, like some prescription-strength vitamins, Kmart and some other stores do not allow seniors to take advantage of the savings discount.

AARP offers a prescription discount card for members. While the cost of the card is free, it is only available to active members, which means you pay your AARP membership dues and keep your membership up-to-date for continued eligibility. AARP reveals that members save up to 61 percent on drugs with their prescription discount card, provided by OptumRX.

While some seniors discover that their prescription discount card offers valuable savings, some others likely realize minimal savings.

Are There Other Options?

Seniors sometimes learn that there are prescription discount cards available specifically for residents of their state. Ohio is an example, with a free discount card available for Ohio residents. There are no waiting periods, no personal information disclosure required, and no exclusions for pre-existing conditions. If you have Medicare or other government-funded prescription drug coverage, residents still have the opportunity to use the prescription discount card on medications not covered by their insurance.

There are prescription drug savings cards available specifically for Louisiana, Florida, Minnesota and North Carolina residents. Enter the name of your state in a search and determine if there are prescription savings cards available exclusively for residents of your state.

Do I Have to Pay for My Prescription Discount Card?

The majority of companies, pharmacies, and drug manufacturers that offer discount cards for prescriptions provide the card at no cost to eligible applicants. Some seniors do not have to apply because some companies send discount prescription cards in the mail, or distribute them at physician’s offices. The card already has a number on it, which seniors simply take to a pharmacy for a discount on their medications.

Some providers charge a fee. Most sources indicate that many of these are scammers. Perhaps you never hear from them after you pay the required fee, revealing your personal information in the application process. Perhaps you receive a card, but realize it provides little to no savings, and that your medicine sometimes costs more than if you did not use the prescription discount card.

There is some legitimate prescription discount cards offered where the well-known provider charges a fee. One such example is the prescription discount card offered by Walgreens. Walgreens charges a $20 annual membership for individuals and $35 per family. Seniors that have Medicare, Medicaid, or Tricare are not eligible for the prescription savings club.

Many sources advise seniors not to pay a fee for their prescription discount card. There are simply too many free options available for seniors looking for prescription savings.

What About Prescription Discount Card Scams?

An important point about prescription discount cards includes learning which ones are legitimate and which ones are scams. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) published a press release in 2014, revealing that the FTC stopped a scam associated with prescription discount card operations that primarily targeted seniors.

One of the schemes involved telemarketers that convinced seniors that they had to pay for the $299 discount card to continue receiving Medicare and Social Security benefits. The scammers told seniors that the prescription discount card offered substantial savings on their prescription drugs and in some cases, paid the full cost of some prescriptions.

The prescription drug card was available elsewhere at no cost, and seniors with insurance could not use the card, rendering it essentially useless to them. A federal grand jury indicted the scammers, charging them with ‘defrauding older Americans.'

Make sure that you fully understand the amount of savings offered on any prescription discount card. You do not have to make any purchase of a discount card to retain your Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid benefits.

Some sources advise seniors not to pay for a prescription discount card. Some legitimate discount cards charge a fee. Check whether having Medicare, Medicaid or other insurance excludes you from the savings program before paying any fees.

How Do I Know if My Pharmacy Accepts a Certain Prescription Discount Card?

Do not enroll in a discount prescription savings plan or accept any prescription discount card unless you know where you can use the card. Seniors have the ability to use some cards at their choice of thousands of pharmacies, while other cards have strict limitations, forcing seniors to use only one specific pharmacy. Make sure that you understand how to use the card before accepting it.

If you are not sure if your pharmacy accepts a particular discount card, call the pharmacy or take the card to the pharmacy before you fill your prescriptions. Make sure that you ask how much you save on each prescription if the pharmacy accepts your prescription discount card. You do not want to drop off your prescriptions only to discover that the pharmacy does not accept your card or that there are minimal savings offered by your prescription discount card.

Seniors that understand what prescription discount cards are, how to use them, and how to avoid scams potentially experience paying significantly less for their prescription medications.