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

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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.

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  1. Susi says:

    My dog takes several medications and two of them have to be purchased at a pharmacy rather than at the veterinarian’s office. She’s on her own family discount family plan at Walgreen’s. I do have to pay an annual fee but I am still saving money compared to what I was paying before they told me about the discount plan allowing pets.

  2. Laura S says:

    Many drug companies also offer discounts on drugs they make. I’ve been taking an injection twice a month for 2 years for arthritis, using the drug company discount card along with my insurance my cost was $5 a month. My insurance company requires this drug be filled through their on-line pharmacy but they (the insurance co) no longer accept the drug company discount card so my cost is over $400 now. The drug company will reimburse me but it’s been hard to tie up 2/3 of my weekly paycheck until the money is reimbursed. My doctor and I have both complained but it hasn’t done any good so far. There isn’t a generic available yet and my son also has this form of arthritis, but is covered under his employers insurance so he isn’t having the same problem yet.

  3. traceyaf71.ty says:

    Our insurance company, Aetna, has forced us to use mail order pharmacy (Express Scripts) for our meds that we take on a regular basis. If we were to get them filled at a store, 3 consecutive times, we will be charged a $25 additional charge. So for us, we can pick up random meds at various pharmacies if we get a sinus infection, etc, but for routine medications, we have to go the mail order route. Yes, that’s cheaper than getting them filled 30 days at a time in a pharmacy, but not sure that it’s the cheapest route in the long run, if we had more choices.

  4. Betty Thomas says:

    Several years back I was diagnosed with an auto immune disease. This was during a time that my insurance had lapsed and we were searching for a better plan and price. Then came the diagnosis and the price to insure me was out of this world. Horrible timing. The meds I had to take were very expensive and only 1 or 2 could be generic. I was with Walgreen’s pharmacy for years and the 1st time I needed to fill these prescriptions they signed me up for the savings plan without me asking or knowing one was available. They have also searched for better prices or generic alternatives for me always putting my needs 1st. The customer service is the best. I will stick with them as they are working for me!

  5. cfraun says:

    I heard about the Walmart $4 plan for many generic prescriptions for a 30 day supply or $10 for a 90 day supply several years ago. Since I do not have insurance, when I finally started going to a doctor (after about 10 years of not seeing any doctors because of not having insurance), I asked her to please prescribe from Walmart’s list of generics if at all possible. She was happy to oblige. Walmart will give you a printed list of all qualifying meds.

  6. Natalie says:

    I recently did extensive research for my son’s Rx’s as well. This is what I recommend to everyone that could save you A LOT of money:

    (and a BONUS tip is that you don’t have to be a member of COSTCO to get your Rx’s there! I called to confirm and it’s free and open to the public.)

    1. Take a list of Rx’s you’re currently on and take it to your local pharmacist. Ask if there are any available generics or alternatives (over the counter) available. I was amazed that just by asking, I had 1-2 cheaper options available to us!

    (for an example- my son was taking a solutab version of a brand name medicine. I found out that the medication is also available in capsule form, which was also available in generic. It’s the same medicine, just generic form and if if the capsule was a problem for him to swallow, the pharmacist suggested we could break it apart and sprinkle it on his food to take. For $200 less a month, that’s worth it!)

    2. Call your doctor to confirm the changes to generic or OTC (over the counter) are OK. You don’t need an appointment at the office to ask these questions, just call and leave a message for the nurse or doctor, and they should call you back with an answer as soon as they talk to the doctor. If they new medication is approved, have the doctor/nurse call in the script for the new medication to the pharmacy of your choice and enjoy the savings! You can always go and pick up a paper script in the office as well.

    In our case, all options were fine with the doctors! It was just me that had to do the research and then contact them to ask. The nurse called in all of the new Rx’s and I was able to pick them up the next day!

    3. Call around to all of your local pharmacies and price match your new Rx’s. If you find somewhere is lower than where the Rx is currently on file, you can easily transfer an Rx from one place to another with just a phone call.

    Here are my findings for savings where I live (central Indiana)

    1. Costco was by far the cheapest on any Rx I needed.

    BONUS: You do NOT have to be a member at Costco to get your Rx’s there! So, all you have to do is walk up to the front, let them know you’re there to use the pharmacy, and you can enter the store without a membership. Of course you can’t buy anything else, but that’s OK most times 🙂

    2. Kroger has a price matching program. Because I have a local Costco, I choose to go there, but if I didn’t, I would find ALL the lowest prices from surrounding pharmacies, document them, and take them to the local Kroger to get the lowest prices at a convenient location. As long as the store is local, Kroger matches the lowest prices found. That’s a VERY useful tool!

    Hope this info helps!!!

    • Guest says:

      You are right Natalie, but you must be a member to join the Costco prescription savings program that gives additional savings over Costco’s regular pricing.

  7. Heather Shover says:

    I have known about similar discounts. When we had terrible drug insurance we started to go to K-mart. A few years back K-mart went to a program that required you be a member and it cost $25 a year on top of the discount program. We have since left this program and get our medications elsewhere. You do have to be informed, because when we did have insurance we were told that we did not qualify. That is why we paid higher costs when we were actually insured. I now ask my current pharmacy if that is the best price. A lot of times the cash price is cheaper.

  8. Ellen says:

    Costco’s pharmacy program extends to pets too. Many of the medicines prescribed by veterinarians are ‘people’ drugs and can be purchased much cheaper from Costco than from the vet. You just need a prescription filled out for your pet from the veterinarian. A big money saver! The other stores that offer these drug plans probably include your pets too. It’s worth asking.

  9. Jenn says:

    I have never known this and want to give you a big THANK YOU! I belong to Costco and never thought or knew and really could use this advice. Thank you so much!

  10. A. Wilson says:

    We get our prescriptions at our local grocery store’s pharmacy. They honor
    WalMart pricing on all generic drugs that WalMart covers, if you ask for it . . . . .
    no extra fees. Big savings!

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