2016 10 10 RX Picture

GoodRx….A Very Good Thing!

While sitting in a doctor’s office recently, I noticed an eye catching yellow brochure promoting a service called “GoodRx.”  I picked it up and read with interest that GoodRx.com is a website that provides discount coupons for many medications that can result in hundreds of dollars of savings. “Yeah, right”, I thought. “It’s probably a scam.”  However, it was not lost on me that the brochure was prominently displayed in a medical office, so I filed the observation away for a future time when I might need a prescription filled.

That time wasn’t long. Soon, I was in another medical office seeking help for a nasty skin rash. My doctor prescribed a steroidal cream called Clobetasol and handed me a script for a 60 gram tube. I went directly to a local pharmacy where all of the employees are genuinely friendly and helpful. I provided my insurance information and the script. Soon the young lady returned and told me apologetically that a 60 gram tube of Clobetasol would cost $297, but if I didn’t need much of the medication, she would be happy to sell me a 15 gram tube for $80. The math was easy. The smaller tube was priced at an 8% premium, but the cash flow analysis handily won. I took the $80 tube and thanked her for offering it to me. The following week when I went back to the doctor for a checkup, I sang the praises of the ointment, but mentioned that I was shocked at the price. My doctor was equally shocked. “That is not a new medication!” he said.  “It can be wonderfully effective, but it’s as old as the hills. Try this.” He handed me a new script along with a piece of paper with www.GoodRx.com written in bold letters.  “Just input in the name of the medication and your zip code, and I predict you will be able to get a coupon that will allow you to buy a 60 gram tube for about $40.

In truth, I doubted I would need any more of the ointment, but I was now drawn into the financial experiment. I went online to the GoodRx site and printed out a coupon specific to my pharmacy for about $70 for a 60 gram tube. When I returned to my pharmacy, the nice representative put the code in their computer several times, but the price remained exactly the same: $297. Disappointed, I asked for my script back and went on to a second pharmacy. There, I was presented with a 60 gram tube of Clobetasol, and a bill for $27.02, only 10% of the cost at my regular pharmacy! I was stunned and decided that our clients should know about the GoodRx website.

So!  Here is how GoodRx works: GoodRx canvases the country and compiles a list of drug prices for most national/regional pharmacy chains. GoodRx does give pharmacies an opportunity to report a more competitive price that will draw customers to their stores. I have seen it reported that the best prices are usually found in grocery stores or large department stores like Walmart, Sam’s or Target that hope you will spend time shopping in their establishments while waiting for the prescription to be filled. It is important to understand that GoodRx is a price reporting/coupon generating company and not an insurance company. Prescriptions purchased with GoodRx coupons will not work toward your insurance deductible. That said, sometimes, it may be better to use a GoodRx coupon than your insurance plan.

Some pharmacists and clerks are more accustomed to working with GoodRx than others. Some will be accommodating; others will be unable or unwilling to complete the transaction with the GoodRx coupon. Should this occur, GoodRx recommends that you either call or email them and they will try to help complete the transaction. Frustration never helps. Try to keep it light, and take your business to a place that welcomes GoodRx coupons.

Prescription drug prices vary widely, a fact that comes as a big surprise to many. Had I not experienced the stunning variation in price myself, it would have been hard to believe such a significant price difference could occur. When I took the receipt for my $27 purchase back to my original pharmacy, the clerk shrugged her shoulders and said, “I know. Drug prices vary widely. I am not surprised at all.”  Wow. Clearly, it pays to be an informed consumer!