GoodRx works to get a cheaper price on prescriptions.
OK, look. I’m a skeptic. I write a personal finance blog about financial independence, and one of the key things I do is analyze the fine print to find the gotchas.
Things are almost never what they seem, and there is always a catch somewhere. As they say, “If you can’t spot the fish at the table, it’s you.”
To avoid being the fish, let’s take a look at how GoodRx works.
How Does GoodRx Work?
GoodRx works by offering you a cheaper price for some medications via a GoodRx coupon, or other price. To use GoodRx, just give the pharmacist the numbers on your GoodRx coupon.
How To Use GoodRx Step by Step
Like almost everything these days, there is a GoodRx App.
The GoodRx app is the best way to use GoodRx, but you can also use the GoodRx website and print out a code, or email yourself the numbers, or whatever.
You need a prescription from a doctor to get medication with GoodRx. It doesn’t help with that step.
Check out my Wealthfront app review.
Once you have a prescription go to a pharmacy. Check the GoodRx price before you have your doctor send in the prescription. Have them send it to where you get the cheapest price. Or, if your doctor still has the ability, get a paper prescription, then you can figure out which pharmacy to use later.
For my purposes, I need pregabalin, or Lyrica. It turns out that it is restricted somehow, so I have to get an electronic, direct-to-the-pharmacy prescription, so I had to choose my GoodRx pharmacy first.
It’s cheapest at Costco, but Costco isn’t as easy to get to for me, plus you have to deal with Costco. So, for my purposes the nearby King Soopers is the way to go. I had my doc’s office send a prescription over there. I specifically asked them NOT to include my insurance information.
GoodRx and King Soopers
GoodRx mentions that some pharmacies may not work with GoodRx, or that some won’t realize that they have to work with GoodRx. There is a phone number that you can call when that happens.
At King Soopers (it’s the Kroger grocery store in Colorado), they not only accept GoodRx, but it is up on some of their own signage. When I went to the pharmacist to get my prescription, she set it down on the counter and said, “You don’t want to pay that.”
I said, “I have this GoodRx thing.”
She replied, “I was hoping you would say that.”
So, however GoodRx works, King Soopers is fine with it. The difference for me was $477 with no insurance coverage to $17.26.
To get that price, she had me read off the Member ID, Group Number, BIN number, and PCN number. She punched them into the computer and my new cheaper GoodRx price came up. She also said that now it would be in the computer and they would use GoodRx automatically for my next refill.
(Here is a curious note that I don’t have time to look into. According to the GoodRx app, it will give you a price of $15.97 at Costco. The interesting part is that is from the regular price of just $60. Everyone says Costco is the cheapest way to get prescriptions. I see more and more evidence that, that is true. If you don’t have insurance, check out Costco pharmacy prescriptions.)
GoodRx With Insurance
Let’s start at the beginning. I have cancer. I take tons of medications. For all of my medications, except pregabalin, I pay $0. That’s right, nothing. Every once and a while a pharmacy tech will comment, “Your prescriptions is free. You must have good insurance.”
The full pharmacists never say this. They have a better understanding of how health insurance works for prescriptions. They probably have an inkling that my medications are “free” because I’ve already paid out a lot, which is true. I hit my out of pocket maximum within a few days of the new insurance year.
I happened to be in the hospital this year, but it wouldn’t take long anyway. A single dose of most chemo medications costs thousands of dollars.
The only prescription I have a problem with so far is pregabalin, or Lyrica. It is not that my insurance does not cover pregabalin, it does. However, it only covers a certain amount, which is lower than what I need to maximize my pain relief. So, I need a way to pay for the rest of the pregabalin I need.
At my usual pharmacy, the extra, uncovered pregabalin would cost $117. That’s not terrible, but, I’m not looking to add another $1,400 per year to my medical expenses.
You can’t use GoodRx and insurance at the same time. Using GoodRx prescriptions is like paying cash. That means that the amount you pay for GoodRx medications will not count toward your deductible, or annual out of pocket maximum.
GoodRx works to get you a lower price without your insurance, so it may be worth pay a little more if that helps you hit your insurance company deductible, or other benefits.
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Does GoodRx Really Work?
Like so many Americans with high medical costs, I’m always on the look out for an alternative. I’ve seen plenty of GoodRx commercials and advertisements, so I thought I would look into how GoodRx works and if it would help me.
Is GoodRx a Scam?
My biggest concern was for a GoodRx scam. There are two ways to know something is not a scam. First, they didn’t ask me for any payment information.
There is a GoodRx upgrade called GoodRx Gold. It appears to be a subscription program that offers you cheaper GoodRx prices than the regular users get. People who need more prescriptions might find GoodRx Gold worth it, but for me just getting this one medication, GoodRx Gold is not worth it to me. I did not use it so I can’t do a GoodRx Gold review.
The second way to know something is not a scam is to figure out how it makes its money. That’s harder than it sounds. It isn’t obvious how GoodRx makes money.
I did a lot of research about GoodRx prices and how GoodRx makes money. First GoodRx offers insurance network or pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) prices to customers. In exchange, GoodRx owes the PBM a fee for using the network.
But, when you use GoodRx the pharmacy pays GoodRx a fee based on being part of the PBM.
GoodRx refunds part of that fee to the customer create an even cheaper price. This is kind of how Rakuten works to pay cash back. GoodRx works by passing on the part of the fee paid by the pharmacy to the PBM, and keeps whatever is left over.
It doesn’t sound like much, but like with a lot of things, if you turn a few bucks per customer into lots of customers, you make lots of money. That is why GoodRx is free and spends a ton of money on advertising.
According to GoodRx investor relations, GoodRx made over $100 per quarter with this business model, so I guess is no need for GoodRx scamming me 🙂
Where GoodRx Does Not Work
Nothing is perfect. I found good prices for GoodRx Adderall coupon, and also my previous neuropathy drug. The GoodRx gabapentin coupon price is also a discount if your insurance doesn’t/won’t cover it.
On the other hand the GoodRx Vyvanse coupon price is still in the $400 range in my area. I guess they don’t offer as much of a discount via the PBMs GoodRx works with.
I have only tried GoodRx with one drug, and only at one pharmacy, but so far, I am thrilled with how well GoodRx works. I would recommend GoodRx to anyone looking for a way to get cheaper prescriptions.
You can also try alpha-lipoic acid for neuropathy. It is over the counter treatment for neuropathy that lots of folks swear by. So far, I don’t think it really seems to be helping me.
You can also try CBD. If you live in a state with medical marijuana, studies show that using a 200:1 or 100:1 type of CBD:THC product provides the best relief. You may need a medical marijuana card or equivalent in your state.
About the Author
Brian Nelson is an expert via first-hand knowledge, but is not a doctor. Brian was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2019. He has been living with it ever since. All information is form informational purposes only, and is not medical advice. Check with you own doctor about your specific situation for medical advice.