Would you like a discount card?

We all know about those discount cards that many stores have nowadays. You use your card when you make a purchase, and you get some (usually miniscule) amount off. There are cards for shoe stores and grocery stores and restaurants and clothing stores and gas stations. I generally politely decline those discount card offers.

I take five prescriptions on a daily basis. I have been taking three of them long-term, and it’s possible that I will continue to take some subset of the five for the foreseeable future. Therefore, I have asked my doc to write them for 90 days, and since he’s so accommodating, he does. With refills. This means fewer emails to the doctor’s office and fewer trips to the pharmacy, both of which make my life easier.

It was time for refills. I will not mention that I have been trying for ages to get ALL my prescriptions to refill at the same time. This, of course, is impossible, which means I end up making more trips to the pharmacy, and that doesn’t make my life significantly easier. But now that we have no prescription coverage with our medical sharing plan, we pay cash for all scripts, so I don’t have to deal with insurance, and I can refill them whenever I jolly well please! So last week, I began to do just that, but then paused. It occurred to me that it might be smart to compare prices on all five meds at the two pharmacies I frequent.

I will not bore you with the details of the number calls made, messages left, or times spent on hold, but I will say that on some of the meds CVS was lower and on some Family Pharmacy was lower, so I ended up asking each pharmacy to transfer from the other the ones for which it charged the better price, and they were each happy to do that. Nice folks, those pharmacy techs.

But get this. The cash price on my 360 bumetanide tablets (a diuretic we refer to as “bum” and of which I take four per day) at Family Pharmacy was . . . are you sitting down? . . . I guess you are because you’re reading this on a screen of some kind. . . a whopping $538.87!!! That’s a house payment!!! I gasped and stammered out a thank you to the lady for that information. Then I called CVS and was relieved to learn that their price was somewhat better. I told the technician I wanted the cash price on 2 mg bumetanide tablets, quantity 360.

“Well, that one’s pretty expensive.”

“How expensive?”

I was remembering that the price at all the other pharmacies in the area is usually in the $400 range, but that CVS has been filling it for the past couple years for about $60.00. I have never told CVS their competitors’ prices, and I would sincerely appreciate you not telling them either.

“Ummm. . . it’s $409.99.”

“You have GOT to be kidding! You’ve been filling it for years for something like $60.00!”

“Well, that’s $409.99is the cash price, but, oh, I see, they’ve been running it through on your discount card.”

Note that I have a fistful of discount cards rubber banded together in a cubby on my desk, but there is no CVS discount card in that collection. I think it must’ve been some deal where they had asked me at some point in the past if I wanted to sign up for their discount card, and I had asked why I’d want to, and they’d said it would save me some on some prescriptions, and I’d said, “Sure,” and they’d put my name in their computer, and that was it. I obviously have not thought anything about a CVS discount card since that day.

“And with your discount card, it will be, uh, $27.24.”

(REALLY?!?!?!?)

Totally shocked and much more than slightly embarrassed, I replied, trying not to giggle with joy, “That is a WONDERFUL number. Please refill that prescription.”

I’d decided on the spot that even though I still have a month’s supply of bum here, I’d better go ahead and refill it at that price before CVS changes its mind!

I picked it up this evening, and they really did charge me a mere $27.24 for my 90-day supply. That is absolutely amazing!

Moral of the story: Always say yes to the discount card.

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