What is a Prescription Plan?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 29 May 2019
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A prescription plan may refer to an insurance policy that helps meet the costs of prescription drugs, or some form of discount plan that can help people pay for drugs out of pocket. There are also some plans that give sharp discounts or provide free medications for people who meet certain financial requirements. Understanding the different types of plans is valuable when determining whether one or more will provide savings on medications.

Many kinds of health insurance have a built-in prescription plan. This may pay a percentage of costs or a flat co-payment. These plans usually have formularies, a list that contain quite a few common prescription medicines, but they may not have them all.

Medications not on the formulary might not be covered, or some drugs are covered at lower amounts. A consumer must pay either a greater percentage of the cost or a higher copayment to get them. The advantage of these plans is that since they are part of health insurance, they usually don’t require enrollment in a secondary plan.


Having health insurance or even government health coverage doesn’t automatically mean a person has prescription drug coverage. In places like Canada, people typically buy a secondary prescription plan that helps meet drug costs. Medicare subscribers in the US are also required to get a prescription plan or to choose a form of Medicare coverage that comes with one. The obvious difference is that people in these situations, aside from in the latter case in the US, have to pay money for a secondary plan. Costs may not be steep for this form of coverage, but there are costs. Moreover, the degree of coverage depends on the individual plan, so plans should be researched carefully.

Sometimes the term prescription plan is used synonymously with drug discount plans. These can cost money or some are free, and they may entitle people to low priced drugs. Some large pharmacy companies have abandoned this approach in favor of simply offering a variety of commonly prescribed generic medicines at very low prices, such as $4-$10 US Dollars (USD) per prescription. This approach doesn’t necessarily help with rare, brand-name, or higher-priced drugs.

The worth of the discount prescription plan is variable. When customers consider paying for discount plans, they should find out exactly how much they will save based on the types of drugs they currently take. Any medicines taken for chronic conditions should especially be assessed at the discount level to see if a discount is worthwhile.

The last prescription plan offers discounts to people meeting certain economic qualifications, or it is sometimes available from drug companies for very costly medicines. Anyone having difficulty paying for medicines might contact the drug companies producing them or speak to local pharmacists to determine if there is a plan like this available.



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