News 11 Special Report: Prescription for Savings

If you like to clip coupons, you'll be happy to hear that there are some great bargains to be had when it comes to prescription drugs.

But as Melissa Voetsch reports, you'd better check the fine print on these coupons before you cash in.

The price of prescription drugs these days can be a tough pill to swallow. But, did you know that in many cases, there are savings out there --  everything from cash back offers to co-pay rebates?

Now the deals are easier to find thanks to new sites that will do the bargain hunting for you.

Sounds good, but is there a downside to the discounts?

Ilene Stern loves a great bargain and clips coupons for everything from cleaning products to gift items. Stern says, "It's always nice when I'm going to the cash register and I take out my coupon and I'm paying less than the woman standing next to me."

But Ilene never thinks to look for a coupon for her medications. In fact, you can find coupons for all kinds of brand-name prescriptions like drugs to asthma, high blood pressure, even sleep problems. Don't know where to find a deal? New websites like OptimizeRX list all the available offers for you.

The savings programs range from coupons where you can get a portion of your co-pay, such as $15 off your co-pay to a rebate program where you simply fill out a form to get reimbursement.

You can also get free trials. We found coupons for three of the five most commonly prescribed drugs including one for Lipitor offering up to $180 off co-pays over a year.

Ilene was able to find one for her thyroid prescription, too. She said, "There was a coupon that allowed me to have 30 days for free with an option to renew three additional times."

The American Medical Association's Dr. Edward Langston says these coupons can be a way to cut healthcare costs. Langston says, "If it's for medication that you're taking and that is going to be something that you take for a long period of time, then I don't see any real problem with that. Why not?"

But Doctor Langston warns patients shouldn't push physicians for a prescription change just because a coupon is available. And as for the prescribing doctors, Langston says, "We can't use the coupons to dictate the right medication for you."

When you use prescription coupons, read the fine print. Many are not valid for mail-in orders and can only be used at brick and mortar pharmacies.

If you are on plans like Medicare and Medicaid, read the conditions, too, since often the coupons don't apply.

Posted by LS