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How to Save Money on Diabetes Medications with Prescription Discount Cards

Updated: 5/16/22 3:15 pmPublished: 11/4/19
By Eliza SkolerJimmy McDermott

By Eliza Skoler and Jimmy McDermott

A prescription discount card can be used to reduce out-of-pocket costs of diabetes medications

Editor's note: This article was updated on March 16, 2020.

Leer este artículo en español.

A prescription discount card is a coupon that can be used at the pharmacy to save money on medications. These cards are typically offered by drug companies and can lower the costs of drugs, especially for people with high-deductible insurance plans. The cards are useful for name-brand medications that do not have generic options, or drugs not covered by insurance.

In the United States people with diabetes spend about $5,000 each year on prescription medications. Here’s how prescription discount cards can help with the costs of medications.

How can I use a prescription discount card?

If you have a prescription for a diabetes medication or a device (like insulin or another drug, and sometimes continuous glucose monitors or blood glucose strips) here are the steps to find and use a prescription discount card:

1. Find a discount card for your prescription

  • Go to the drug or device website, and look for a page called “coverage” or “copay card” or “savings” or “insurance” to see if there is a discount card from the manufacturer to make the therapy more affordable. See examples of these sites below.

  • It is often easiest to do a Google search for “[drug name] savings card,” which will often pull up the company’s website

  • Check a prescription savings website like Inside Rx or GoodRx to see if the prescription is available at a discount

2. Download, print, or screenshot the discount card

3. Bring the card to the pharmacy the next time you go to pick up your prescription. A pharmacist will apply the discount like a coupon.

4. Pay the discounted price

5. Note that when refilling the prescription, you may have to remind the pharmacist to apply the discount card again.

Here are drug companies’ discount cards for common diabetes therapies:

Basal/Long-Acting Insulin

Bolus/Fast-Acting Insulin

SGLT-2 Inhibitors

GLP-1 Agonists

DPP-4 Inhibitors

Blood Glucose Strips

Continuous Glucose Monitors (CGM), Pumps, and Smart Pens in the Pharmacy

Who can use prescription discount cards?

  • Many prescription discount cards are open to anyone, though you may not be able to use a discount card if you have government health insurance (Medicare, Medicaid, TRICARE)

  • Some cards do require that you have health insurance

What else do I need to know about prescription discount cards?

It’s often not possible to get drug price estimates from your local pharmacy without bringing both your valid prescription and your discount card to the pharmacy. This can make it hard to know exactly how much money you will save with a prescription discount card.

What other prescription discount card programs are available?

Prescription discount cards that are not offered by the drug company can be found at the following sites.

Most of these cards are available to anyone and free to download and use, regardless of whether you have insurance. However, each card has different details, so make sure that you read the card thoroughly so you know what to expect.

Generally, if you use a discount card that is not offered by the drug company, savings only work on the full out-of-pocket cost of a medication. Therefore, these prescription discount cards generally cannot be combined with insurance. However, having insurance or qualifying for assistance programs does not make someone ineligible for these prescription discount cards.

Generic medications will still usually be the cheapest option, especially with a discount card – the discount card will generally help you save more money on a generic drug than on a name-brand drug. Pharmacies also often have their own generic drug programs that can further help with costs; Walmart and Costco tend to have inexpensive options.

There are many prescription discount cards available. Some of them will meet your needs better than others, and some of them will provide better savings than others. It’s important to know what your card covers before you sign up. Here are some questions to help you look into these prescription discount cards:

  • Does the card cover your medications?

  • Is the card free?

  • Which pharmacies will let you use the card?

  • Does the card provide the lowest possible price you’ve found for your medications?

diaTribe asks: Have you used a prescription discount card before? How was your experience? Let us know: [email protected]

For more information about affordable medication, see these diaTribe articles:

This article is part of a series on access that was made possible by support from AstraZeneca, Lilly Diabetes, and Novo Nordisk. The diaTribe Foundation retains strict editorial independence for all content. 

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About the authors

Eliza Skoler joined The diaTribe Foundation in 2019, after graduating cum laude from Carleton College with a degree in Biology. Her undergraduate studies focused on human biology and neuroscience, and... Read the full bio »