By Patricia Prewitt
Consumer Education Advocate
Most of us have seen the commercials on television claiming to “pay zero or $5.00” for a prescription brand name product. But how many people actually call the phone number, or search for coupons? Not many! When I left the pharmaceutical industry, the statistics were that less than 8% of eligible patients used coupons to save money. Why? Just like any retail store coupon, it takes work to find the proper one and remember to use it.
What are brand name prescription co-pay savings cards?
Brand name medications (newer, expensive advertised products) typically enjoy patent protection for 20 years or more. The pharmaceutical companies understand that many patients may want the newer medication, and their providers may want them to use them due to clinical advantages over older (and less expensive) products. Pharmacy benefits managers for health plans have created Tiers (2-3-4 and higher) so patients will pay more for a newer medication, because they cost the plan more money. These co-pay cards help the brand build loyalty, and often significantly reduce patients’ out-of-pocket costs.
How do I find one for my brand name expensive medication?
A doctor’s office may have samples of newer medications, and brand name co-pay cards they may share with patients. Some medical offices have great systems for these cards in patient education areas. Some medical offices only use their own materials, and might not have pharmaceutical company-provided materials available.
My doctor’s office doesn’t have these. How do I find one myself?
The easiest way to check for a brand name prescription co-pay savings card offer is to visit the manufacturer’s website. Not all companies use this marketing tactic, and not all brands will have offers—but many do. Make sure you are visiting the official website (not a copycat site) and look for “patients’ savings,” “save money,” or “co-pay savings cards.” Registration will likely be required. Once registered, a card is usually sent to an email address. Simply bring the card to the pharmacy where you fill the prescription.
Who can use these brand co-pay cards?
These cards are terrific for people with standard commercial insurance prescription plans. It’s great to be able to pay $5 a month instead of $25, or $10 instead of $50, etc. depending on the offer. Many people now have high deductible plans that include a prescription deductible.
What’s the catch?
Unfortunately, people using a government program such as Medicare are not eligible to use these co-pay cards. When searching for a brand saving card, the offer will screen out anyone with a government prescription plan. Also, know that you are sharing information to the company and your insurance plan for processing.
If you are eligible, be sure to bring the co-pay savings card with you to the pharmacy window to have the tech add the codes to your file BEFORE going to the cash register to pay. Some programs may only offer one month of savings; others may offer a full 12 months, and others may only offer savings up to a certain dollar amount.
About the Author: Patricia Prewitt is a local Massachusetts resident who spent over 30 years in the pharmaceutical industry. “Tricia” is a consumer education advocate, and loves helping people find ways to save money on their prescriptions. More information and free resources are available on her website at https://mypersonalrxavisor.com or call her at 508-507-8840. Favorite Quote: “Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.”—William James