Pharmacy and Generic drug

With Generic Drugs, You Gotta’ Speak Up

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.

Pharmacy and Generic drug

Photo Credit: StockMonkeys.com

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.

 Question: Have you ever joined a generic prescription discount program? Did you even know there was such a thing?

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  1. Barb C says:

    I do not belong to such a program … do not qualify due to our current health insurance plan. But my Mother, who is on Medicaire, does. Our Kroger Grocery store has a pharmacy and several years ago did a big promotional thing about their plan. It has saved Mother about $40 a month, which is big for someone on a limited income. We knew Walgreens had a plan also, but Kroger’s here was a better deal for her.

    Reply
    • Maxi says:

      When I started to sign up for the Walgreen plan, I was told I was ineligible b/c they aren’t allowed to offer it to people on gov’t insurance: Medicare and Medicaid. Has that changed?

      Reply
  2. cindy in missouri says:

    We get all our 90 day prescriptions thru Costco. Most times they are aroun 6-8 dollars. At least under 10. Most places offer 4 dollar generics but the medication has too be on their list. So don’t assume all generics are.
    Also you do nor have to be a member to go to the Costco Pharmacy. I am not sure why but I know this to be true.

    Reply
    • Guest says:

      You’re right Cindy but again, to get the Costco savings program you must be a member. This way you get Costco’s regular low price, but then an additional savings on generics.

      Reply
  3. Kate says:

    My daughter is on a monthly Rx and the same happened at Rite Aid. It went up from $10 a month to $26 then we switched to CVS and it was $30. Her dad’s insurance was ‘making us switch to CVS’ or encouraging us to mail order. I don’t understand the whole mess, but we just ordered a 6 month supply by mail and it costs nothing. No copay. I’m dumbfounded, but if you have a recurring Rx, I would check into mail order.

    Reply
    • Guest says:

      Rite Aid did not have a membership fee. Neither does Costco (for its rx savings program … but you must be a Costco member to get that additional savings). Sounds to me from the comments here that WalMart does not have a membership fee.

      Reply
      • Cathy S says:

        Walmart does not charge a fee. I was very glad to find them after losing my insurance while having to get 2 prescriptions filled monthly. Don’t remember why one med is $40 for 3 months, but it is way cheaper than getting them at Rite Aid with insurance!

  4. Donna says:

    My Type-1 diabetic husband avoided prescriptions by mail because of the perceived possibilities of mishandling during shipping – heat, mostly. I’m sure they’d ship insulin in coolers, but what of the other meds? Heat might damage those, as well. Any advice there?

    Reply
    • Shellee says:

      I’ve never had a problem with my mail-order meds and heat. My insulin comes in a cooler with several cold packs.

      Reply
    • Terri says:

      I took a medication once that required it to be refrigerated at all times. When it came through mail-order it came in a large Styrofoam cooler with multiple ice packs. It never had a chance to get warm. I think it might have been “overnighted”, too, at no additional cost to me.

      Reply
  5. Pat says:

    Mary I’m surprised with your savings savvy you didn’t know about this. We’ve been using WalMart’s generic savings for years (ever since Costco first introduced and others followed). I would love to use Costco but they’re 60 miles from us. I recently had a run-in with Walmart where the price was going to be higher for a generic if filed through my insurance than it would be if I paid through their savings plan. Go figure.

    Reply
    • Guest says:

      Yes I am surprised at myself. Trust me. I assumed my insurance company would be negotiating the lowest prices. And that was really dumb.

      Reply
  6. kele55 says:

    My husband takes a lot of prescription meds for heart, diabetes etc. He gets 90 day refills online since we have no Costco close to us. Added benefit- no driving to a store and getting tempted to ‘impulse buy’ anything.

    Reply
  7. DJ says:

    I have been getting my meds at Walmart for $4/month refill. Month before last, they charged me $12. I asked why. When the tech checked on it he said that they had filled my prescription with meds from a new supplier. However, they gave me the same bottle back and a refund for the extra $8!! Makes me wonder what was really going on.

    Reply
    • Guest says:

      Can’t be careful enough these days. Never assume anything. I think I need that tattooed on the inside of my eyelids.

      Reply
  8. Melissa Fabella Johnson says:

    I used Walgreens program for a while, when I was uninsured. It saved a ton of money on my prescriptions. The only downfall was that the program itself cost money to join. They sweetened the deal by offering discounts and cash back on general merchandise items but it took a lot of effort to figure out what they all were.

    Reply
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