Save Money On Medication
Louisiana’s Free Discount Prescription Drug Card Program
By Cheryl Robichaux
If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to tighten your finances, the free Louisiana Drug Card program may be just what you need to save money on prescription medication. A visit to a doctor coupled with the escalating costs of many prescriptions can be a financial burden, especially for those without health or prescription insurance. For employees and retirees who are used to seeing benefits reduced and their out-of-pocket costs increasing each year, the Louisiana Drug Card can be a welcome surprise.
The service is available for any and all Louisiana residents who’d like to save on their prescription prices. There are no premiums or deductibles associated with this program and printable cards are available free of charge from the website www.louisianadrugcard.com.
Launched in March 2007, the Louisiana Drug Card program has saved Louisianans over $12 million on their prescription costs. The drug card has been made available through the non-profit group, Louisiana Health Care Alliance and United Networks of America. Members can save up to 75 percent on prescription medications at more than 56,000 participating pharmacies across the country.
The program is partnered with companies that negotiate discounts directly with the pharmacies on over 20,000 name brand and generic drugs. These discounts are then passed directly on to cardholders.
Membership to the Louisiana Drug Card program has no restrictions. Unlike insurance programs, there is no income, age, pre-existing condition, deductible or waiting period restrictions. The program is designed to help patients who don’t have prescription drug coverage or who have coverage but are subject to large deductibles, large co-pays, formulary limitations, dosing limitations, gaps, and/or any cash out-of-pocket expenses. It’s also for residents who don’t qualify for publicly funded programs like Medicaid and Medicare.
The Straight Facts
Free For Everyone. All Louisiana residents are eligible to get pharmacy discounts through this program. The program can be used to supplement most health insurance plans including Health Savings Accounts and High Deductible Plans. It can also be used as a Medicare Part D supplement by providing discounts on non-covered drugs.
No Restrictions. There are no enrollment forms, no age or income requirements, no waiting periods, no eligibility required, no exclusions, covers pre-existing conditions, no claim forms to file, no annual or lifetime limits.
Lowest Price. This program has Lowest Price Logic to guarantee that you get the best pricing on prescriptions.
Medications. The program includes discounts on brand and generic medications.
Confidential. No personal information is required to get a card. All prescriptions processed through the program remain confidential.
Generics Vs. Brand Drugs
A generic drug is a product marketed after the patent on the original brand product has elapsed. Generic products are just as effective as brand name drugs, plus they’ve been rated by the FDA and can reliably be substituted for branded products.
If there are generic alternatives to brand name medications available, always ask your doctor for those medications instead of their more expensive brand name counterparts. Don’t just assume your doctor will prescribe generics.
Unfortunately brand name prescriptions often rise in price in the months before they face generic competition. The AARP Public Policy Institute conducted a 2011 study that examined the 217 brand name drugs most commonly used by people on Medicare. Prices of brand drugs facing generic competition in 2010 rose by an average of nearly 14 percent in 2009, an increase that was nearly twice the amount of all other drugs. The manufacturers are, in a way, looking for one last big revenue score before their patents expire.
The Louisiana Drug Card Program covers all FDA approved brand name and generic prescription medications. For the year 2011 the average savings for cardholders was 32 percent off retail pricing for brand and generic drug prescriptions.
Create A Card
This free drug card is pre-activated and can be used immediately. You can create as many cards as you need. You can also give cards to friends, family members and co-workers. Go to www.louisianadrugcard.com and get started. Enter the first and last name of the person who will be the card holder. The prescription drug card lists the bearer of the card as “Confidential Member.” You can then print, text, email or save the card. It’s that simple.
Shop & Compare Costs
To see how much money you can save with the card, click on the Medication Pricing icon, and then Drug Pricing Lookup.You may search either by entering the name of the drug or by medical condition. The discounted price may vary by as much as 75 percent depending on the drug and the pharmacy discount rate contracted with Louisiana Drug Card. While pharmacy prices may vary from week-to-week and by the geographic location, the patient is guaranteed the lowest price available regardless of whether it is the Louisiana Drug Card price, your present insurance program’s price, or the pharmacy’s already discounted price.
Let’s compare prices for instance on Effexor, which is a serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor used to treat depression, generalized or social anxiety disorder or panic disorder. A friend of mine (who requested anonymity) was prescribed Effexor by her physician two years ago. She purchased both the brand name version and the generic equivalent, Venlafaxine, for the past two years at an average price of $80 per month.
To compare prices on Effexor, she entered her zip code. Five area retail pharmacies had both the brand and generic versions in stock. Pharmacy 1 listed the generic drug for $128.12. Pharmacies 3 and 5 listed the generic drug for only $15.23. She signed up for the Louisiana Drug Card and now pays only $15.23 per month for her prescription. That’s a monthly savings of $64.77, which adds up to a savings of $1,554 in a two-year period.
The Savings Are Clear
Find participating pharmacies in your area by clicking the “pharmacy locator” tab on the home page of the Louisiana Drug Card’s website. Pharmacies which are part of the network are listed.
When you arrive at the pharmacy, present your prescription to the pharmacist. If you need to transfer a prescription, bring your empty prescription bottle or label with you to the pharmacy.
Then present your Louisiana Drug Card. Your card’s unique code provides the pharmacist with the appropriately discounted prescription price.
Your savings will be clear once the pharmacist enters your filled prescription into the register. Whether the lowest discounted price is the Louisiana Drug Card’s price, your present insurance program’s price, or the pharmacy’s already discounted price, you are guaranteed to receive the lowest price available.
A complete list of prescriptions that are discounted by this program can be found on the website by clicking on the “medication pricing” link. For more information on the Louisiana Prescription Drug Card Program visit www.louisianadrugcard.com.
For anyone needing assistance in getting a card or understanding how to use it, call 1-877-321-6755. On the Louisiana Drug Card Facebook page, scan the QR code with your smartphone and receive your free prescription card.
Partner organizations include Louisiana Health Plan, Department of Children & Family Services, AARP, Louisiana Department of Health & Hospitals, LSU Health, Tulane Medical Center, Oschner Health System, American Cancer Society, Habitat For Humanity, to name a few.