A recent study showed that 1 in 5 prescriptions go unfilled in the U.S. because financially the people cannot afford them. The discount drug programs or as they are better known as, affinity membership programs, have been around for a while and usually include a membership fee and are limited to “members only” however the recent influx of Drug Discount Cards has been a welcoming savings benefit for many. Not only are most of these cards free they have very few restrictions as to who can use them (each card’s website states clearly who, how and where their cards can be used).

Think of the card’s website as a portal to finding certain medications at the best price and the nearest location, it is the same principle as the travel sites offering to find you the best rate for a flight like Expedia. Similar “search tools” are used to find your drug at the best price and closest location and usually list several locations with different prices. Like Expedia you do not pay a fee for this service (some travel programs have booking fees) the airlines pays a fee to Expedia for bringing them customers, the pharmacy pays a fee to the discount card for bringing clients into their pharmacy (a win-win for everyone).

Rule One – read the fine print, all discount cards and programs are not created equal some have: Age restrictions, income restrictions, insurance restrictions, membership requirements (fees), some require that you use a coupon to get the best price.

Rule Two – research the various options out there and read what each offers because many offer extra services.

Rule Three – Do comparison shop each discount card’s site allows you to search by location, drug or price. Each card program offer’s different deals or locations and each location may offer a different group of drugs offered at a discount, usually between 300-500 generic drugs and a limited number of brand name drugs. Each card’s website will be able to show you all the options that are available to you there is no need for you to physically visit multiple locations; they do the work for you. You can have more than card, however, you cannot use multiple cards for the same prescription.

While this is not insurance but rather a discount program I have found that one of my more expensive drugs is actually cheaper to purchase it with cash rather than by using my insurance and paying a co-pay. To sum up there are many cards out there that can meet the needs of a few (heavily restricted), most (fewer restrictions) or ALL (no restrictions).