37ºF

How GoodRx helps unlock savings on prescription medications

Many people don't realize the cost of medication can vary dramatically depending on how you pay and which pharmacy you go to.

Even more confusing is that using medical insurance doesn't always get you the best price. There is another way.

"This is an amazing app where is doesn't ask you insurance information. You don't have to put in a Social Security number. It doesn't matter if you have insurance or if you don't have insurance," said Dr. Joan Crawford, of Ascension Macomb-Oakland Hospital in Warren, Mich.

Doctor Crawford is a big fan of GoodRx and routinely shows her patients how it works.

"I see so many people that are only allowed to spend so much money a year on medicine. So, the famous fall donut hole. People can't afford their medicines," she said. 

GoodRx can help change that.

"It's just a way to get medicine cheaper," said Crawford.

How it works

Here's how it works:

You download the GoodRx app or go to their website and enter your exact medication, dose, and quantity. GoodRx searches the prices at pharmacies near you and lists them from lowest to highest.

In one example, the cholesterol medication Lipitor would be free at Meijer. If somehow free isn't a good enough deal, or, you don't want to go to Meijer, the next best price is $8.25 at Sav-Mor Pharmacy. Just tap the coupon price on the list and a coupon is generated that you show the pharmacist on your phone.

It really is that simple. Even if you have insurance this price may be less expensive than your copay. And if you don't have insurance, there's a very good chance that the coupon discount GoodRx negotiated will be a better deal.

Another example: Doxycycline, a common antibiotic, is $11.68 with the GoodRx coupon at three pharmacies, but $16.50 at another. All of those are still less than the $20 copay it would cost me if I used my insurance.

Or take a look at Lisinopril, a common blood pressure medication. The prices for a one-month supply are all lower than many copays.

If you don't want to visit multiple pharmacies to get the best price for each drugs, there is a feature that allows you to enter all of your medications and get them filled at one pharmacy. It will show you where the best price is for the bundle of medications.

Some limitations

There are some of limitations. Not every pharmacy is part of their database, although most of the larger ones are. GoodRx is less effective at lowering prices for medications that treat rare diseases or biologics. Although it's still worth checking.

While the prices on common drugs may seem too good to be true, they're not. Doctor Crawford said GoodRx is so effective that most of the employees at her own practice are now using it for their own prescriptions.

"All you have to do is plug in a few of your medications and you can decide for yourself what's cheaper and where you prefer to shop for your medicine," she said.

Ask about cash option

Whether you take medications routinely or just a prescription every once in a while, I suggest you download the app or check out the GoodRx website and see if it could save you money. Even if you don't use GoodRx, you should always ask the pharmacist how much it would cost if you paid cash for your prescription, instead of using your insurance.  There are many cases where the cash price is a better deal, but you usually need to ask the pharmacist to get that information.


About the Author: