Pharmacy Discount Cards and Amazon May Offer Cheaper Generic Drugs Than Insurance


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Generic drugs for common conditions like asthma, depression, diabetes, and high blood pressure may sometimes be less expensive with pharmacy discount cards than with health insurance, a new study suggests.

For the study, researchers examined patients’ out-of-pocket costs for 20 of the most commonly prescribed generic medicines for the uninsured and for individuals with private health benefits or coverage through Medicare, the government health program for people 65 and older. Researchers also calculated out-of-pocket costs for people who used pharmacy discount programs through Amazon Prime or GoodRx Gold.

Overall, these generic prescriptions had higher out-of-pocket fees than Amazon prices 20 percent of the time, with average excess costs of about $10 per prescription, the study found. Similarly, out-of-pocket fees were higher than GoodRx prices about 43 percent of the time, with average excess costs of almost $10 per prescription.

The Uninsured Saved the Most, but Amazon and GoodRx Still Often Beat Out Insurance Copays

Much of the savings was driven by the difference between uninsured patients paying cash or using one of these pharmacy discount programs, according to study results, published September 5 in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Half of the generic prescriptions had higher out-of-pocket fees when people paid cash instead of using Amazon, and so did 85 percent of the generic prescriptions purchased through GoodRx.


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