With constant increase in prices of prescription drugs, patients have started to look for effective ways of saving on medications. There are areas where medical insurance fail to serve. In such situations, manufacturer copay cards often come in handy. They help people in offsetting some part of the expenses.
Manufacturer copay cards are savings programs offered directly by drug manufacturers. By opting for these programs patients can buy expensive branded drugs for affordable prices.
However, even these programs have faced significant amount of criticism.
According to some, they eventually increase the total expenses of medications.
Read on to know various aspects of the program.
What Copay Cards Are?
Manufacturer or pharmaceutical copay cards are savings schemes/programs designed and offered by drug manufacturers.
The other common terms used for these programs include copay assistance cards, copay coupons, and copay savings programs.
They claim to assist patients in buying high-priced prescription drugs at a discounted rate.
Copay cards are used typically for buying expensive, branded drugs that doesn’t have any generic equivalent.
Here’s an example: the program will allow you to buy a month’s supply of branded arthritis medicine Humira for just $5 by using savings card offered by the manufacturer Abbvie.
Similarity, the card will also allow you to purchase Humalog, a branded insulin for just $25.
How Do Copay Cards Work?
Copay cards were created primarily with the aim of reducing overall out-of-pocket expenses of patients. When you buy medications, a part of your bill is paid by your health insurance provider. These cards offered by drug makers would pay another part of the bill or the entire remaining amount.
There are certain drugs that might not covered by your insurer. A pharmaceutical copay card will cover the cost of such drugs entirely or particularly.
How Will You Get Copay Cards?
You will have to visit the manufacturer or medication website for getting these cards. The other way of grabbing one is by asking your pharmacist or healthcare provider about copay coupons for the drugs you have been prescribed. He or she will guide you about the entire procedure.
When applying through a website, you will have to register by filling out a simple form. You can also enrol your name by calling the program.
Once your name is registered, the company would send you a soft copy of your copay card. Take a printout of the card and carry it with you when visiting pharmacies.
Restrictions and Requirements
To enjoy the benefits offered by copay cards, most companies would require you to meet the following criteria:
- You must be covered by a private or commercial insurance
- You shouldn’t have Medicaid, Medicare or any other government aided health insurance
These restrictions have been imposed primarily due to the anti-kickback statutes which stop drug makers from forcing people to buy items for which they would get compensated by the government.
Some cards also come with a maximum limit for savings and expiration date. In most cases, there’s an annual or monthly maximum savings limit. Some companies also offer cards that allow only a certain number of transactions per month or year.
There might be local laws that would stop you from using certain cards. For instance, people in California are not allowed to use copay cards for buying branded drugs which have their generic equivalents.
To ensure that you know about all restrictions and regulations you must read through the terms & conditions section carefully before signing up. If there’s any confusion, do talk to the program officer to get it cleared.
Is There Anything Negative About These Programs?
In spite of helping people save big amounts, these programs have been criticized strongly by some. These people say that copay cards end up increasing an individual’s total medical expenses.
According to them, the cards force people to keep consuming expensive branded medicines instead of opting for cheaper generics. They believe that by allowing common people to purchase medicines for lower prices and increasing the amount charged to insurers, drug makers are making the overall healthcare system more expensive.
Some insurers and pharmacy benefit managers have also begun protesting against the popularization of copay cards.
How Would I Know Whether My Medication Can Be Purchased Using a Manufacturer Copay Card?
Visit the official website of GoogRx (https://www.goodrx.com/). It features the copay card information of more than 700 medications. If your medication is covered by such a program, you will find its name listed under “Ways to Save”.
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