Prescription drug prices vary wildly across different pharmacies and contribute to the high cost of healthcare in our country. On average, an American spends about $1200 per person per year, more than anyone in any other country. One company trying to help the public reduce these costs, and still get the medications they need, is GoodRx.
Let’s take a look at GoodRx and see if we can save you some money on your healthcare.
What is GoodRx?
Launched in 2011, GoodRx is a startup that created an online website and phone app platform that tracks the prices of different prescription medications. Users can find information on drug prices near them, compare them to various pharmacies, AND get free coupons for discounts.
GoodRx checks over 70,000 pharmacies nationwide in the United States and receives millions of visitors each month.
The mobile phone app for GoodRx is ranked number one for medical apps for iOS and Android.
How it Works
There is no need to input any personal information in the GoodRx site or app. It’s free to use and works like this:
- Go to the homepage at GoodRx.com
- Input the medication you are looking for
- View the list of pharmacies near you that sell that medication
- View the prices of the medications at each location
- You compare and see which one you’d like
- Go to the pharmacy and get your medication!
In addition to giving you the prices, GoodRx also provides free coupons that can be presented at any pharmacy.
Thus, even if you’re unable to go to a specific pharmacy to save money, you can still look for coupons and save a bit on the medications you need at the locations that are convenient for you.
How Do They Make Money?
Given that the website is free for users, you may think that this is too good to be true.
However, there are no surprises or hidden costs. They earn income through advertisements on their site and referral fees, as well as through a subscription service that you can choose to use.
You can feel free to use the site or app as much as you want, and the only thing you’ll pay is the cost of your medications unless you choose to explore something advertised or you join the membership service.
Pros Of Using GoodRx
There are several pros to using GoodRx.
The website makes comparing prescription drug prices easy. As a result, the average customer who uses GoodRx saves approximately $355 a year on their prescription medications.
And as a special bonus, the coupons never expire! You can use and reuse them as often as you need to!
Free and Easy To Use
Not having to pay upfront to use the service is a great bonus and just adds to the cost savings. Plus, how nice is it not to have to worry about inputting your personal information in yet another app!
Also, it’s easy to use. To use it, just open the coupon on the website or app, and simply hand it to the pharmacist when picking up your medication.
If you take a lot of prescription medications or have family members who do, GoodRx has a subscription plan for $5.99/month (individuals) or $9.99/month (family) called GoodRx Gold. With it, you get access to even more discounts and can use it to cover up to six family members. If you’re unsure if this is worth it, there is a free one month trial you can try.
This service can be used at any pharmacy across the entire country, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Also, all the major pharmacy chains are available, including CVS, Walgreens, Kroger, Rite Aid, Costco, and Walmart!
You Don’t Need to Have Insurance
One of the biggest benefits is that you can use GoodRx even if you don’t have insurance. The advantage here is that you may also find prices cheaper than what your insurance will cover. GoodRx doesn’t discriminate. It just gives you the lowest possible prices available.
If you do have insurance, be aware that you can’t combine a GoodRx deal with your insurance coverage. So, if you decide you want to use GoodRx, you need to let the pharmacist know that you want to use a GoodRx discount instead of your insurance coverage.
Even Doctors Use It
Doctors are well aware of the medication costs that get passed on to patients. They also use the app to compare drug prices and give recommendations on where to go for refills to help save patients money.
To pull a quote from the GoodRx site:
“I work in the medical field and love this app to find the cheapest med prices for patients! Plus I get my dog’s meds significantly cheaper using the coupon they gave me!! I never thought of that! It is half of what I have been paying!!! Easy to use!!!” Endrea on May 1, 2016
You Can Use it For Your Pets!
As the quote above states, GoodRx also works for your pet’s prescription medications. I know many of us pet owners don’t have pet insurance, and I know we are all well aware of how expensive veterinarian visits and pet medications can be. GoodRx can help reduce some of those costs.
You Can Use It for Generic and Brand Name Drugs
Sometimes the price of medication varies depending on whether you’re getting the generic or brand name version. On the site, you have the option to view pricing for both.
Cons Of Using GoodRx
There aren’t many cons to using GoodRx that I could find. However, some points to note are included below.
You Still Need A Prescription
Of course, for all prescription medications, you do need an updated prescription or refills to use GoodRx. You can’t just walk in and get whatever medications you want.
You May Miss Out On Your Deductible
All insurance plans have a deductible, meaning you owe that minimum amount per year before your insurance fully kicks in to cover all the costs. For instance, if you have a $5000 deductible per year, you will be required to pay a certain amount for services until you hit that number.
When we fill our prescriptions, insurance covers a portion of the cost. So a $100 medication won’t necessarily cost you that; instead, you’ll pay a percentage of that depending on your insurance and your plan. Whatever you do pay gets counted towards your deductible, which is a good thing because as soon as you hit that number, insurance will be required to cover everything else.
However, when you use GoodRx instead of your insurance, the amount you pay will NOT count towards your deductible. Some insurance plans may accept receipts that you can submit for reimbursement, or get credit towards your deductible, however, you will need to call them to sort that out.
The Subscription Service is Limited
The GoodRx Gold membership is, unfortunately, limited. Not all pharmacies are included, such as Walgreens, Walmart, Sam’s Club, and Publix.
There’s A Lot Of Extra Drug Information
Knowledge is power, and empowering patients to research the best prices is, I think, a great thing. However, GoodRx has a section with each drug called “alternative options” where it lists other medications in the same category so patients can compare the prices.
For instance, using Lipitor or Atorvastatin as an example. It belongs to the “statin” class of drugs to treat cholesterol. GoodRx also shows prices for all the different statin medications as well. It’s not a bad thing, but it can also be misleading. Not all statins are created equally, and the same goes for other drug classes. It’s not always about saving the most money. It is also about what is best for the patient. That takes into account the side effects, the potency, and the overall response by the patient.
As it states, patients should remember to speak with their doctor about what is best. Certain medications may react poorly with others or have site effects that others do not.
You Can’t Double Dip
While the ability to use GoodRx when you don’t have insurance is a positive, it’s also a negative in that you can’t use both.
For many, insurance will cover the majority of the medication costs and you’ll only pay a small portion (like $5 or $10). In cases where the cost of medication is really low with insurance it’ll likely be better to use your insurance rather than GoodRx.
You should go with whichever way saves you the most money but unfortunately you won’t be able to use both and stack savings.
Prescription prices vary, and unless you know what your other options are, it can be challenging to shop around for the best price. GoodRx makes comparing drug prices super easy and shows you which pharmacies near you have the best deals. Plus, there is no minimum requirement for who can use the service.
If you’re traveling or visiting family/friends far away and need to refill your medications, this is also a great resource to use. For me, my insurance can only be used at the institution where I’m insured. If I were to go to an outside pharmacy, I would have to pay a steep price. I imagine a lot of people are in this position. Having a resource like GoodRx can go a long way towards relieving the stress of this cost when traveling or when there is limited access to your pharmacies where your insurance is accepted.
For many of us, our prescription medications are essential for helping us maintain a healthy lifestyle. However, the costs that we incur because of them should not be a burden. If using a simple, easy to use, free service like GoodRx can save us money and give us peace of mind, then why not!
This article originally appeared on Wealth of Geeks and has been republished with permission.
Tawnya is an elementary special education teacher by day and co-blogger at Money Saved is Money Earned by night.
She holds an Honors BS in Psychology from Oregon State University and an MS in Special Education from Portland State University. She has had a pretty successful writing career, first as a writing tutor at the Oregon State University Writing Center, and in recent years, as a freelance writer.
Tawnya and co-blogger Sebastian have a wealth of knowledge and information about personal finance, retirement, student loans, credit cards, and many other financial topics. They teach people how to save money, make money, and understand money.