Discount cards, with names like Together Rx, Pfizer for Living Share Card or GE Wellness Plan, are proliferating like rabbits. The cards help the average uninsured drug buyer get small-to-moderate discounts at local drugstores or via mail order.
There are a large number of programs — more than we can compare here — offering different deals on different drugs. Some charge fees, some are free. Some have eligibility requirements, some don't. There's a range of covered drugs, member pharmacies and mail order options. Some programs also offer discounts on services such as vision and dental care.
Discount cards are sponsored by a variety of organizations, including senior associations, drug companies and other private companies. Some pharmacies have their own cards, and 25 states now offer discount programs to seniors and low-income residents. Some drug manufacturers' discount cards offer low-income individuals making up to $18,000 a year and couples making up to $24,000 a $12 to $15 flat-rate price on certain drugs.
Card programs often trumpet savings "up to 50 percent" but that doesn't mean they'll save you a ton of money. The deeper discounts tend to be on lower-priced generics; 50 percent off $10 is only a $5 saving.
Patient Assistance Programs (PAPs) are pharmaceutical manufacturers' programs that provide free drugs to patients who meet stringent low-income guidelines. Each program has different requirements and application procedures. See "Discount Resources" below for more information.
Warnings and guidelines