Understanding the Financial Implications of Prescription Discount Cards: What Pharmacy Leaders Need to Know

Prescription discount cards, such as GoodRx, have gained popularity among consumers seeking lower medication prices. These cards can offer significant savings on prescription drugs making them an attractive option for many individuals. However, as a pharmacy leader, there are more considerations than simply lowest patient cost – especially for smaller or independent pharmacies. 

While these offers are often very beneficial to consumers, unfortunately in our current system, there are several things that pharmacy leaders have to consider in addition to providing the lowest total cost of care to the patient. So, let’s explore the prescription discount card environment, perform a simple cost benefit analysis, and ask questions that aren’t easily placed on billboards.

Firstly, we know that prescription discount cards (PDCs) provide several benefits. A simplified list may look like: 

  1. Improved patient affordability: this one is near and dear to our hearts at RxLink
  2. Increased customer traffic: why would a customer go to a more expensive store for that same exact item? There is no Louis Vuitton version for not dying from a preventable illness  
  3. Competitive Advantage: have you seen the Costco gas station line? Savings for necessities matter
  4. Upselling and Additional Sales: Let’s be honest, PBMs rarely keep up with the cost of pharmaceutical rate hikes and $8 Coca-Cola’s help keep us in business
  5. Community Reputation and Trust: Take care of the people and the people will take care of you – maybe

While there are even more potential benefits than listed above, let’s move on to some more negative, less-attractive components of the prescription discount card: 

  1. Reduced Profit Margins: margins are razor-thin as it is, how often will it result in a loss to the pharmacy by using the card? 
  2. Administrative Burden: not only do you have to track how much you are potentially losing, but also, what are the eligibility requirements and even how to address an irate customer with a piece of paper that says $10 and isn’t eligible?
  3. Unpredictable Cash Flow: Process a few discount cards in May, but don’t forget about that processing bill you’ll get in a month or two, whether through a pharmacy services administrative organization (PSAO) or not
  4. Uncertain Program Stability: the piece of paper that the patient has today may say $10, but what about tomorrow? 

Again, there are even more negative consequences we could add, but these are the big ones. The point here is that prescription price transparency and affordability is not a problem that can be solved with anything near a one-size-fits-all attitude. The solution is, in our belief is through a 3-step process:

  1. Empower the patient with clearly understandable and up-to-date information of what the best options are for them in the context of their unique insurance situation
    1. Patients shouldn’t have to sort through 100s of offers and compare/contrast terms and conditions against their insurance to understand and afford what their doctor prescribed them
  2. Free the pharmacist to spend time with their customers talking about care not googling offer terms to solve a dispute
  3. Save the pharmacy from having to decide which is the better option: help patients save money and stay on therapy or stay in business as a pharmacy?

RxLink’s solution takes all of these components into account with our MedMap™. Patients are automatically armed with easy-to-understand drug information, insurance requirements, and pricing options/alternatives prior to arriving at the pharmacy counter that their prescription was sent to. Pharmacists and techs no longer have to sort through which options are best as they are already provided to the patient and eligibility has been confirmed. Lastly, we have created solutions for pharmacies that prevent negative reimbursements for any pharmacy that may be seeing margin pressure when helping patients by providing prescription discount cards. 

Solving the medication access problem is complex, but RxLink can make it simple. Let us know if you’d like to learn more.