Pharmacy Rewards – A New Source of Coupon Savings
The changes in Medicare prescription coverage have impacted consumers and pharmacies alike. Changes in medication prices, insurance pricing formulas and allowable costs are widespread.
Amid the confusion over Medicare Part D and its implementation by pharmacies nationwide, there are some beneficial trends for consumers: coupon incentives for filling prescriptions at local stores. These incentives take several forms, ranging from store coupons (redeemable for gift cards or store discounts) to drug manufacturer coupons (redeemable for dollars off, rebates, or even gifts). Regardless of whether or not you are covered by a prescription insurance plan, the potential savings available are worth a closer look.
Offers to Look For
1. Store Coupons
In-store pharmacies, chain pharmacies, even warehouse club pharmacies are now offering enticements to keep and bring in new business. Alert shoppers can clip coupons from weekly store sales circulars offering store gift cards of $10 – $25 for new or transferred prescriptions. Check-out coupons, also known as Catalina coupons, for prescription rewards are often provided to loyal store customers.
Even if your insurance does not provide coverage at a specific store, pharmacies are augmenting the customer base by providing coupon incentives for filling your uninsured pet prescriptions at their local store. Safeway brand stores, Target, Rite-Aid, CVS, Kroger, Walgreens and Superfresh to name but a few have all jumped on the prescription coupon band wagon.
Some stores, such as CVS, also offer special savings to encourage Medicare recipients to continue shopping at their stores. A recent promotion available to Part D plan holders included a coupon booklet of twelve coupons for $5 off any $20 purchase made within the store.
Check your advertisements regularly, and ask your stores pharmacist what offers are currently available. You might be well rewarded.
2. Manufacturer Coupons and Vouchers
Manufacturers regularly offer coupons and vouchers for relatively new brand name prescription medications, allowing consumers to try the medication for up to one month at no cost. Try before you buy! Coupons for samples, free trial vouchers, even percentage discounts for new customers are available for many medications.
Insurance information is typically not required to fill a sample or trial offer prescription. A doctor’s written prescription is required, however, to be submitted with the coupon or voucher.
A list of current manufacturer coupons and offers may be found at Reduce Prescription Costs
Once you redeem a trial or other prescription coupon, the manufacturer will generally provide another coupon or rebate voucher by mail. Each time you redeem one, another is provided. With many competing prescription products on the markets, brand loyalty can (and should) be well rewarded.
Even if you are already taking a particular medication, manufacturer offers may be available. Regular “card holder” discounts, manufacturer coupons (also referred to as pharmacy checks), and rebates are increasingly common for brand name prescriptions when a generic alternative is not available but similar, competing, medications are.
Several manufacturers also have “Rewards Programs”, allowing you to submit your receipts for rebates and free gifts. $40 – $200 a year in cash back, as well as free samples and gifts, can add up quickly to reduce or offset prescription costs.
3. Doctors Office Coupons
As odd as it may seem, the doctors office and pharmacy counters are often cluttered with coupons. Manufacturers want to reach their target customers, and customers are generally found at the doctors office or pharmacy counter. Many have prescription coupon offers, as well as over-the-counter (OTC) product coupons such as Tums and Robitussin. Even grocery manufacturers such as Kraft provide coupons booklets on products for special diets, such as high calcium or low sugar. Look. Skim through the brochures. You might be pleasantly surprised.
Maximize Your Savings
While prescription coupons may or may not effect your out of pocket expenses for medications, there are several ways to achieve additional savings using these coupons:
- First and foremost, combine store pharmacy offers with any available manufacturers offers to receive the greatest returns.
- Don’t assume you cannot use prescription coupons with co-payments or insurance plans. Frequently you can. The major exception is when your medications are completely covered by Medicare (some breathing meds, diabetic supplies, etc.); you cannot receive financial gains on federally funded prescriptions. Your pharmacist knows the requirements and is generally very supportive in sorting out any confusion.
- Many pharmacies and stores honor competitors coupons. This includes pharmacy coupons. If your store circular provides a prescription coupon, but your local store does not have a pharmacy, other pharmacies in your area often will.
Some offers are valid only on “new” prescriptions. A “new” prescription is any doctor’s written prescription, however, even if you are already on the medication. If a pharmacy coupon or offer is available, consider asking your doctor for a new written prescription rather than a refill. Manufacturer offers for free trials, samples, or other “first prescription” coupons and vouchers can usually be applied to any “new” filled prescription.
Other store offers are available only on existing prescriptions transferred from a competing pharmacy. For transferred prescriptions, there are several things to consider. First, check whether or not the store accepts your insurance plan. If not, or if you do not have insurance, evaluate the price of the prescription at that store. Paying twice as much for a medication just to receive a gift card doesn’t make financial sense.
Second, no matter what the pharmacy’s price points are on brand name medications, the cost of generic medications should be similar between stores. You can often fill or transfer a generic or low cost prescription out of pocket and still save using the store coupon and/or manufacturer’s coupon. Call and ask the price before you transfer, and make sure you are benefiting by the offer.
Also, remember, filling or transferring a prescription at one store does not mean it needs to be filled at that pharmacy in the future. Just take your empty bottle to your preferred pharmacy and have it transferred back when it’s time to refill. It is usually possible to transfer prescriptions repeatedly between pharmacies to take advantage of competing offers, however each consumer should evaluate the practicality and benefits of this.