The Genius Hack That Will Help You Save On Prescriptions

Getting your prescriptions filled can be expensive, especially if you're someone with a chronic health condition that requires regular treatment and care. In fact, 61% of Americans are currently taking at least one prescription drug, with 27% reporting that they currently take four or more prescription drugs. These prescriptions can add up fast, which leaves many Americans looking for a more affordable place to get their prescriptions filled. Enter Costco.

While you might be thinking of hot dogs and super toilet paper packs, it's important to remember that every Costco also has a pharmacy. The best part is that these pharmacies are open and available to the public — meaning you don't have to be a Costco member in order to use a Costco pharmacy (but keep in mind that there are additional discounts that are only available to members). Even if you have a small household or aren't interested in bulk buying, you can still take advantage of Costco's pharmacy prices without shelling out the $60 annual membership fee. In addition to your own prescriptions, Costco will also fill any pet and dependent prescriptions you might need. Plus, you can use to get your prescriptions shipped without having to visit a warehouse location (which can be especially useful to anyone without a nearby location). 

Costco is a great place for cheap prescription drugs

82% of the public say that the current cost of prescription drugs is unreasonable. According to a report from the US Department of Health and Human Services, 1,216 different prescription drugs experienced a faster-than-inflation price increase from 2021 to 2022. These prescription drugs experienced an average price increase of 31.6%, with some drugs increasing by as much as 500%. While these price increases would hurt most American's wallets on a good day, general inflation, rising housing costs, and increased medical care costs make the timing of these particular prescription drug price increases even worse.

Costco's size allows it to take advantage of larger purchasing power which, in turn, leads to better prices on prescriptions. In fact, their prescription drug prices beat Medicare pricing about 50% of the time, according to a study from USC. Plus, a secret shopper report found that Costco charged the lowest cash prices for prescription drugs (which can be important for anyone without insurance or anyone looking to avoid insurance for prescriptions). The Costco Membership Prescription Program offers additional discounts on prescriptions (and even allows you to easily search for your specific prescription drug online in order to price compare with other pharmacy options). This program is only available to Costco members, however.

Costco Alternatives for prescription drugs

The rise of online-only prescription websites is now giving Costco some competition. In fact, Consumer Reports found four online retailers (Cost Plus, GeniusRx, Honeybee, and Ro Pharmacy) with better pricing on generic prescription drugs than Costco's pharmacy. With that in mind, Costco's prices were still better than insurance copays on some of the prescription drugs they reviewed, and better than Amazon's prices on all the drugs reviewed. However, not all online-only pharmacy websites are full-service pharmacies, since many focus more specifically on low-cost generics. This means that specialty drugs (like insulin for example) or drugs that require special handling like refrigeration might not be available through these sites. 

Depending on your specific prescription needs, sticking to a full-service pharmacy like Costco might still be your best option. Another added bonus is that, unlike some of online-only prescription retailers with state-specific delivery limitations, will deliver your prescriptions to all 50 states. Make sure to always purchase prescription drugs from a reputable website, and to avoid any potential financial scams. It's also important to keep your prescriptions at a singular pharmacy, rather than shopping around for each prescription drug separately. As tempting as it can be to get the most savings, failing to let a pharmacist look at your prescriptions holistically can increase your chances of experiencing negative drug interactions.