How to Use GoodRX to Hack Prescription Costs
The American health insurance system is frustrating. Let me teach you how to hack your prescription medication costs without using your insurance! See the tl;dr at the end for instructions.
During my mental health journey, one large source of frustration was understanding how much my medications cost, how my health insurance works, what it covers, and the difference between deductibles, coinsurance, and copays. And understanding it all over again when it changed at the start of the new year. I’d like to share one recent win I had with my mental health journey — hacking medication prices by using Good RX coupons and understanding my insurance.
For several months now, I have been a cash patient with all my mental health providers. I take several medications monthly. Call me crazy, but it looked like the cost of my prescriptions changed without a change to my meds themselves. It was weird that some pharmacies only let me buy a thirty-day supply even though I had a prescription for a three-month supply. With a healthy bit of paranoia, I initiated many calls between my pharmacist and prescribing physician to understand the problem.
YES — it is a problem when a medication price increases from $33 to $93 — and you don’t know why.
The hours of phone calls revealed my pharmacy had the wrong prescription dosage and wrong supply, and the medications were being run through insurance. My prescribing physician’s staff were patient and understanding, but they were also not insurance whizzes. As expected, their job is healthcare and admin, not insurance.
Although insurance paid toward my medication, I was left to pay a substantial copay (remaining amount) for my prescriptions, even after insurance was applied.
The copay amount you pay for medications should stay the same (for the same dose and supply) unless anything changes, OR until you meet your deductible. In easy speak, you’ve received so much medical treatment (in dollars) in a given year that your insurance kicks in to pay higher amounts for goods and services. Deductibles are specific to your insurance policy, but range in the several thousands of dollars. In my case, it is not cost-advantageous to use my insurance!
To fill my prescriptions, it is cheaper to pay out of pocket using a Good RX coupon than using my insurance and paying my copay.
After many trials of finding prices, playing with coupons, and filling prescriptions, I was able to find the best pharmacy to fill my prescriptions, using the Good RX website and app. I had been using CVS at Target, which was the cheapest option at the time. After moving, my local pharmacy shifted to the nearby Walgreens, which consistently seems to have the highest prices. After looking at the Good RX app, I found the coupons at my local grocery store pharmacy (H-E-B, TX-based) which offered the lowest price.
Take a look at the table below to see the prices I was paying before and after GoodRX coupons.
TL;DR: Quit Talking and Tell Me How To Do It!
How To Hack Prescription Costs
- Call your doctor. Ask your prescribing physician about your medications, dosages, and supply (1 or 3 months, for example). Ask for a three month supply if possible, and ask for generic medications.
- Call your pharmacy. Ask your pharmacy if your medications are being run through insurance, what the retail price is without insurance, and any coupons they might have. Ensure any prescriptions are using the generic form. Ask if you qualify for a three-month supply (you may have to work this out with your Dr.). Write down the name, address, and phone.
- Call your health insurance provider. Ask about your health insurance plan deductible(s), coinsurance, and copays for medication costs. Go over your information. If you have a low deductible, you may meet your deductible early, and no longer need these steps. But if you do
- Download the Good RX app. Search for coupons for your medication. You must have the exact medication name, dosage, and supply. Find the store that offers the cheapest coupons. Find that new pharmacy that offers those prices. Save the coupons for the prescriptions for the specific store (very important). For example, if you see that CVS gives you the best prices on meds with GoodRX, don’t save the Walgreens coupon. After you find a pharmacy that offers the best price, you will need to transfer your old prescriptions from your old pharmacy to your new pharmacy.
- Call your new pharmacy. Inform them you want to transfer prescriptions in from an old pharmacy. Use your information from step 2: let the new pharmacy know who your old pharmacy was. The new pharmacy will contact your old and initiate the prescription transfer process.
- Go to new pharmacy. Tell the pharmacist you do not want the prescriptions run through insurance, you only want to use a Good RX coupon and pay out of pocket. Provide the coupon for that store for the proper medication dosage and supply. Be conscientious, and pick-up your scripts during low traffic times.
Things to Keep In Mind
- Different dosages of the same pill vary in price. One script I have is for 7.5mg, which is 2–3x more expensive than a 15mg pill.
- Having to take several pills a day can increase prices. I have a medication that only comes in 200 mg dosages, and I take two pills per day. When I saw the prices of my medication shifting, I realized that sometimes I was being given a one-month or three-month supply, or the prescription was at an improper dosage for one pill a day.
- Name brands cost more than generics. All my prescriptions, whenever possible, are run as generic. I’ve never experienced adverse healing as a result of taking a generic versus name-brand medication.
- A 30 day supply may be more expensive than per month cost for a three month supply. For example, the Progesterone I take costs $60–90 for a one month supply with insurance no coupon, and $48.32 for a three month supply with no insurance and a GoodRX coupon. My 90-day supply’s monthly cost is $16.11. Massive savings.
I hope that the healthcare system becomes easier to understand, or goes away completely in the future. When it comes to your health, you are your own best advocate. Ensure you are being treated for your issues properly, and find a provider who takes the time to listen. Indicate that costs may prohibit you from seeking treatment, but do ask everyone you contact about alternative payment arrangements or sliding scale fees.
It may take some hard work, persistence, time, a headache, and lots of waiting on the phone — BUT YOU CAN DO IT! Now go get them savings.
Baby steps, my friend, baby steps. Do the work, but take baby steps.
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