Discount health & prescription cards
What you need to know before buying In
Health and prescription discount plans
Health and prescription discount card programs claim to offer savings on a variety of services and drugs, usually as part of a membership for a monthly or annual fee. Members receive a discount card that is accepted by a network of doctors, hospitals, pharmacies, and other healthcare providers, who offer discounted rates on some services or products.
How they work
How the cards work varies, but usually a member pays a discounted fee at the time of service. The discount offered is usually set by the provider, so the amount of savings can vary between providers, and even between services from the same provider. For example, a dentist may offer a 10% savings on a cleaning, and 15% on filling cavities. Another dentist may offer discounts only on cleaning and exams.
A discount card IS NOT health insurance
Some discount program advertise their “health coverage” or “affordable health care,” leading people to believe this is health insurance. It is not.
A discount card only reduces the amount you pay for some services. It does not pay your medical providers for covered services or pay any claims.
You must pay the medical bills in order to receive the discount. The card will not protect you from catastrophic medical costs associated with serious illness. Discount cards are not regulated and do not provide the consumer protections that insurance policies do, including confidentiality and mandatory coverage.
It is not advisable to replace your health insurance with a discount plan.
Use good consumer sense
Get the rules in writing. Be wary of sales pitches. Read the offer carefully, including any fine print or terms of agreement. Make sure all the details agree with the sales pitch.
Legitimate programs are up front about their costs and fees. Compare all the costs, including administrative charges and monthly or annual membership fees.
Check the company’s credentials
Before you sign up, find out what other people are saying about the company. Check with organizations like the Better Business Bureau to make sure the business is legitimate and reputable.
Ask about the card’s cancellation policies
Some questions to ask: Can you cancel at any time? Will your membership fee be refunded or prorated?
Keep personal information private
Never give credit card or other personal information to strangers who contact you. These may be efforts to steal your money or your identity.
Before you decide to join, consider the alternatives
If you don’t have health insurance, try to get it. The New York State Department of Health offers insurance for those who are income-eligible and do not have access through an employer program. In addition, EPIC is a prescription drug program for income-eligible senior citizens. We have listed contact information elsewhere on this page.
Free prescription discount cards
New York residents have access to a free statewide prescription discount card at NewYorkRXCard.com. Many municipalities offer free prescription discount cards to residents — some are income-based, others are available to everyone. Contact your city, town, or county to see if there is a program near you. Many pharmacies and department stores also have their own discount programs.
Prices for drugs, eyeglasses, and many services can vary greatly in the same community. Compare costs of prescription drugs in your community on the New York Health Department’s website.
Talk to your provider
Make sure the health care professionals and businesses you want to use will honor the card. Ask providers specifically about discounts they offer on the services or products you need. Find out how the card would work with your insurance.
Do the math
Add up all the costs of the discount plan, including membership and administrative fees, compare them to the total value of the discounts you are likely to receive. If you have insurance, the discount cards may not provide you with significant savings, unless you have a large deductible. Compare your savings with what you might save by taking advantage of alternatives.
Office of the New York State Attorney General, Health Care Bureau
Compare prescription drug prices
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
Better Business Bureau