Posted on Tuesday, July 11th, 2017 at 7:00 am
There are coupons for just about everything you can think of – including prescription medications. Pharmaceutical coupons (also called to as “drug coupons) are produced by companies that make medications. The company tells consumers that the coupon will lower the cost of the medication they need. But, that’s not exactly correct.
There are two kinds of pharmaceutical coupons. One gives the consumer a discount on a specific brand name prescription drug. This type of coupon is distributed by the manufacturer of the medication. People who are uninsured cannot use these coupons.
The other type is a copayment coupon. This coupon is distributed by a third party coupon vendor – not the person’s health insurance company. When the consumer uses that coupon at a pharmacy, he or she won’t have to pay their co-payment.
At a glance, it sounds like both of those types of coupons will save you money. But, that’s not always true. For example, let’s say a person uses a drug coupon to buy his name brand prescription medication. The coupon will allow him to buy that drug for less money than it typically costs.
There are many brand name drugs that have generic versions. Usually, the generic version costs less than the name brand does. The drug coupon for the name brand might save you money on the name brand – but you might save more money if you purchase the generic version and skip the coupon.
What happens if a consumer uses a coupon in place of their copayment? The consumer doesn’t have to pay their copayment. They save that money. But, that’s a short-term way of looking at it.
According to Modern Medical Network, these kinds of coupons actually end up costing consumers more money overall. “As coupons increasingly shift spending toward pricey brand-name drugs, the net effect is greater pharmaceutical spending and higher health insurance premiums, which hurt those same consumers.”
In short, these types of coupons might save you a little money right now. But, you will end up spending more money on higher priced pharmaceuticals and health insurance premiums later on as a result.
There is another thing to consider. Some states do not allow pharmaceutical companies to offer coupons for brand name drugs. California has a bill going through state congress that would prohibit these coupons. Market Watch says that federal health programs are barring those they insure from using these kinds of coupons.