April 5, 2011

Tip of the day—Prescription Transfer Credits

I’m not a fan of medicines, and the funny thing about that is that I work in a healthcare profession.  When I had some health issues last year that resulted in a surgery, I think the thing that made me the most frustrated by the entire experience was knowing that I would have to take a medication for the rest of my life.  Every day, for the rest of my life—those words still carry a lot of weight when I think about them. 

I’m lucky. I have insurance, we have a prescription plan, and my medication isn’t an expensive one.  There is a generic available, and I count my blessings each day when I realize that the situation could be very different. 

When I met with my doctor the first time after the surgery, I explained that I am a couponer, and frequently grocery stores and places like Target offer an incentive for you to change pharmacies and transfer the prescription to their location.  I explained that I wanted to take advantage of those deals when I could.  My doctor encouraged me to at the very least try and stay with the same manufacturer of the generic medication if I were to do this.  He said that sometimes different manufacturers have slightly different amounts of the active ingredients in their pills.  Manufacturer X might have a few more micrograms than Manufacturer Y. 

Below are a few other things that I’ve learned through the process of transferring prescriptions for the credit:

  • Phone ahead to the pharmacy.  Because of his recommendation to get the same manufacturer, I could have saved myself a drive if I had phoned ahead to Target to ask about the prescription.  The pharmacist there said that they didn’t carry the manufacturer I had been using, but that they would be happy to order it in the future.  Since I knew that I wouldn’t be back to Target for some time, I decided to wait and transfer it another time.
  • Take your prescription to the pharmacy first.  If you are transferring a prescription to Kroger, they put the credit onto your Kroger Plus Card.  At Target, they give you a gift card when you have the coupon in their store ad with you.  By taking care of your prescription first, you will have the credit available to purchase whatever other items you need to buy at the store. 
  • Try it and see if you like it.  I would have never known that I can get my prescription cheaper at Kroger had I not transferred my prescription there.  The pharmacist was great, and they were fast and helpful.  Since I shop there each week, I’ll most likely keep the prescription there.  The stores want you to try them out or else they wouldn’t offer this kind of promotion.
  • Don’t abuse the system.  If you bounce back and forth on the same prescription over and over again just to get the credit, then you’ll risk jeopardizing the stores offering promotions such as this.  For people with fixed incomes, promotions like this can help them when it is a difficult month financially or they have an unexpected bill pop up.  Every couponer has a different take on promotions like these.  I recommend that you read the fine print on the coupon or talk directly to the pharmacy staff about what is involved in receiving the credit. 
  • Don’t transfer a prescription for someone else.  If you have a loved one with memory issues, transferring prescriptions is probably not the best option.  Keeping medications at one pharmacy that is convenient to them and one which you trust the pharmacist is most ideal.  For any age or situation, it is a good idea for your pharmacist to know ALL of the medications, OTCs, and herbals you take.  Since I only have this one prescription medication, transferring it for a credit isn’t such a big deal.  If I had 10 and they were at different pharmacies all over town, you can see how that would cause some serious confusion.
  • Also know that CVS gives ECBs for prescriptions filled.  If you are a frequent CVS shopper, then their ongoing deal might be better in the long run instead of opting for a one time transfer credit elsewhere.  Since I’m not a fan of the CVS closest to me, I haven’t had much experience with that.  Anyone want to share some advice?

What about you?  Have you transferred prescriptions for a credit before?  If so, what was your experience like?  Are their pharmacies other than Kroger, Target, and CVS that offer promotions such as these that you know of? 

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