© 2013 Roy Benaroch, MD
I’ve gotten loads of drug discount cards in the mail to give out to patients. They look almost too good to be true—they claim to have no costs, and to provide discounts on prescriptions of up to 75%! Wowza, can’t go wrong with that! Right?
When something looks too good to be true, it usually is.
I’ve gotten these from a few different organizations, but they look similar. One is from “The Healthcare Alliance”, which has a .org web address on their letterhead—that extension is traditionally used by non-profits, but when you look through their website, they don’t claim to be non-profit. And in fact the .org address actually forwards to a .com site.
I found an exposé of their pharmacy discount card from a local TV investigation. The good news is that it does work, at least some. The amount of discount varies widely. On average, their reporter got a 23% discount off retail prices. But the card doesn’t really help people with insurance—it won’t cut your copay, and insurance drug costs are already negotiated downwards. The biggest savings seem to be for people without insurance, and only for some of the most popular generics.
The bad news: companies like this collect your personal information, including your contact info and information about the medicine you purchase. They sell this info to marketers who will use it to try to sell you more stuff. Now, you may not mind this, but you ought to at least think twice before agreeing that all of this personal health info is being sold. Marketers will know if you have diabetes, or hemorrhoids, or if you’re on a birth control pill, or if you’ve taken morning-after contraception, or if you’re on medicine for anxiety or depression or genital warts. To me, that’s kind of creepy.
So: forget about those too-good-to-be-true discount cards from for-profit companies. You can save money by using generics and by taking advantage of the Needymeds non-profit, 100% legit discount card. That one is NOT too good to be true. I guarantee!