I want to tell you about a shocking encounter I had recently at my local Rite Aid pharmacy. But first, a little background information.
For years, my doctor has prescribed two preventive type medications. Both are generics and together they have cost me about $24 for a 30-day supply for quite a few years. Given that my health insurance at the time included prescriptions, it never dawned on me to check into the details or to search for a cheaper alternative.
I changed health insurance providers recently. My new coverage does not include prescriptions, a small matter that slipped my mind as I drove through to pick up my most recent refills. The pharmacist asked if I’d changed insurance, I said yes I had and she responded with “That will be $178, please.” What?! Once I picked my jaw up off the floor, I asked her why the price was so high. She had a long explanation about my previous insurance coverage, pharmaceuticals and the high cost of meds. I could not get home fast enough to search for a cheaper place to get these meds filled in the future.
I had to look at the search results three times before I could believe what I was reading. One of the links was to Rite Aid Rx Savings Program. I input the two medications in the search box provided and the price quote came back as less than $26 total for a 90-day supply for both medications—about $8.75 per month, not even close to the $26 I had been paying with insurance all those years before.
I grabbed the receipts, bottles and paperwork and stormed back to Rite Aid. I asked the same pharmacy employee about the Rite Aid Rx Savings Plan and would my prescriptions qualify? She hesitated, then asked me why I hadn’t requested information on the program when I was there earlier. I bit my tongue. I did not lash out with, “Well that would be rather difficult in that I did not know about your Savings Plan.” It took a lot of restraint, but I remained calm as she handed back my prescriptions, receipts and $150 cash.
I learned this is a discount program offered by Rite Aid Pharmacy is not health insurance or anything related to a Medicare drug plan. The website states that this plan is helpful for people who don’t have insurance or are under insured. I have used Rite Aid Pharmacy for years to fill generic prescriptions and not once did anyone mention that I could save with their discount program.
I am learning that Rite Aid is not the only pharmacy with a generic drug discount program. Walmart, Target, CVS and Walgreens, to name a few, advertise similar plans. I don’t know if they discount automatically or if customers must first inquire. However, given my experience, I would suggest that you not assume you are getting the best price if you use these pharmacies for generic prescription drugs. Speak up. Inquire. Ask for a discount.
As for my next refill, I will not be returning to Rite Aid Pharmacy. In my research, I discovered that the Costco Member Prescription Program offers a discount on all branded and generic prescription medications over Costco’s already low prices. That will bring my cost down even farther.
From now on I am leaving nothing to chance. I’ve inquired at Costco, filled out the form and I’m all signed up.