Discount Drug Card vs Part Dby Denise Early on Mar. 28, 2013, under Health
I’ve recently received several calls from clients who asked me about a discount drug card they got, unsolicited, through the mail. I don’t know if this is the same card being promoted through the Pima County Health Department. That would be the Coast2Coast Rx card which provides discounts on generic and brand drugs of “up to 75%”, according to press releases.
My clients have a Part D plan through their Medicare Advantage plan, or they have a stand-alone Part D plan because they have a Medicare supplement. They were wondering if they should use the discount card instead of their Part D plan, or if they could use it with their Part D plan.
Discount drug cards are for people who do not have health insurance that includes drug coverage – or people who have lousy health insurance that includes lousy drug coverage. There are lots of people in this category.
The prescription discount card is free. Here’s what the press release says about the card:
Coast2Coast Rx is a no-cost, comprehensive program for savings on thousands of prescriptions and additional health services. The Pima County Board of Supervisors recently approved the card for its health and financial benefits to their constituents: it saves consumers money and provides them the opportunity to improve their health outcomes. And in the current economic climate, the free program serves as an important public service to residents and to participating counties—as it requires no administrative work by public personnel, it is a fiscally responsible way for the county to offer a resource to its constituents without overhead costs.
Should a person with a Part D plan use this discount drug card?
The answer is, “it depends”. The discount card and a Part D plan cannot be used together. You can use one or the other, but not both. So if a person has an expensive drug, they will need to ask the pharmacy a few questions such as:
1) What is the cost to me if I use the Coast2Coast Rx card? 2) What is my co-pay if I use my Part D plan?
Choose to use the lower cost option.
An example: Zostavax, the Shingles vaccine
An example of an fairly expensive drug is the vaccine for Shingles. People over 65 are encouraged to get this vaccine because Shingles is a very painful illness. I called Walgreens to ask what the cost would be for Zostavax. Without insurance, a person would pay $219.99 for the Zostavax shot. I do not know what the discount would be for this drug using the Coast2Coast discount card.
For folks who have a Part D plan, the cost for Zostavax will depend on the co-pay that comes with their plan. Most Part D plans call Zostavax a “non-preferred brand” drug. Co-pays for this drug tier vary from $75 to $95, depending on the Part D Plan or Medicare Advantage plan a person is enrolled in.
If a person has a $90 co-pay for Zostavax on their Part D plan, that’s a 60% discount on the Walgreen price of $219.99. I’m guessing the Coast2Coast Rx card does not provide that much of a discount, so using a Part D plan would likely be the lowest-cost option. But it’s always a good idea to check out all your options for saving money.