A health insurer’s copay for medications is generally nonnegotiable, but that’s no reason to pay it — not in full, anyway.
For example, my copay is $10 for a 30-day supply and $20 for a 90-day supply. But I never fork over more than 50 to 85 percent of those amounts at the pharmacy cash register.
How do I score such savings? By using two techniques:
Paying out of pocket
One way is by paying for my drugs out of pocket. Sometimes, it’s cheaper to pay out of pocket than to go through insurance. As we explain in “The 50 Percent Cost-Cutting Tip Your Pharmacist Can’t Share“:
Pharmacists are often barred from telling customers that a drug would be cheaper if they paid out of pocket — also referred to as paying cash — instead of going through their health insurance.
For me, that tip applies to only a couple of generic medications that my household takes. For all other prescriptions, I rely on discounted gift cards to effectively lower my copay.
Using discounted gift cards
I often buy gift cards for less than their face value. For example, I might purchase a $100 CVS gift card for $85 — 15 percent less than its face value.
You can find these bargains on discounted gift card marketplaces like Cardpool.com and Raise.com. These websites enable folks with unwanted gift cards to sell them, which means savvy shoppers like me can then buy them at a discount.
You can think of them as something like an eBay for gift cards, except that Cardpool and Raise guarantee all the gift cards they sell for one year. So, if you happen to buy one that turns out to be a dud, you can get your money back.
When you use a discounted gift card to buy stuff, you effectively never pay full price for those items. For example, if I buy a gift card for 15 percent off its face value and then use it to pay a prescription drug copay, I effectively get away with paying only 85 percent of the copay.
Of course, you can use a discounted gift card to buy anything you could normally buy with a gift card. A discounted gift card for CVS, for example, can be used to buy just about anything CVS sells. I just find most folks never think to use discounted gift cards to save money on prescriptions.
If you ever buy discounted gift cards, always check Gift Card Granny first. The website will tell you which marketplace is selling a particular retailer’s gift card at the lowest price at any given time.
To learn more, check out “How Unwanted Gift Cards Save Me Hundreds of Dollars a Year.”
For more ways to save on medications, see my “10 Expert Tips for Slashing Prescription Drug Costs.”
Do you use any tricks to save on prescriptions? Tell us below or on Facebook.com.