One of the greatest challenges for independent pharmacies is competing with big-box chains. Pharmacy giants can often slash prescription prices to get customers in the door, counting on OTC and front-of-store sales to make up the difference. For independent pharmacies that rely on prescription sales for revenue, shrinking profit margins on drugs and increased DIR fees are seriously impacting their bottom line.
Cash cards are popular among customers, especially those who are not insured or underinsured. With a cash card, the patient can pay a reduced fee for a prescription without having to run the claim through insurance.
However, for many independent pharmacies, the cash price is often less than their cost of acquisition, resulting in community pharmacies struggling to recoup prescription revenue.
A cash assistance program, like RxCashAssist, is designed to help patients afford their medication like a cash card without hurting the pharmacy’s bottom line. Increased transparency at the time of dispensing enables pharmacists and pharmacy owners to make wise decisions about medication pricing that benefit both their customers and their business.
Keep reading to learn more about the differences between cash cards and a cash assistance program, including which program is best for your independent pharmacy.
Cash Cards: Pros & Cons
Cash cards, sometimes referred to as prescription discount cards or prescription savings cards, are intended to help patients that self-pay for their medications. Individuals who have to pay out of pocket can receive a discount on their prescriptions because the card company has negotiated a lower rate with the drug manufacturer.
There are obvious benefits to accepting a cash card in an independent pharmacy. Patients in the community can enjoy better rates on their prescriptions, making the medications they need more affordable. It can be tempting for patients to take their business to a big-box store or another pharmacy that accepts the cash card in order to receive a discount, so accepting them as a community pharmacy can help retain those patients.
However, there are significant drawbacks to cash cards, especially when it comes to pharmacy revenue. In many cases, cash cards for drug discounts are too good to be true.
- Pharmacies are at the mercy of the negotiated discount price. The price is determined by what is best for the average, not what is best for each individual pharmacy.
- In addition to reduced profit margins, pharmacies are charged transaction fees that range from low to high. Many transaction fees are not explicitly stated or easy to determine.
- In some cases, a fee may be paid to a marketer for promoting the cash card or distributing it.
- There is a lack of transparency for pharmacists. More fees can be added later and unexpected fees may arise at any time.
Overall, accepting cash cards helps pharmacies keep their customers but it comes at a cost. Patients can afford their medication more easily, but the pharmacy risks losing money. A community pharmacy can only support a revenue-losing program for so long.
RxCash Assist Program: Pros & Cons
Independent pharmacies have expressed their concerns over cash cards for years. Pharmacists are a crucial part of the healthcare system with a passion for helping the patients in their communities. However, cash cards often result in a loss for independent pharmacies when the negotiated price is less than the cost of acquisition.
TDS listened to the concerns and feedback from independent pharmacies and created the RxCashAssist program that offers the best of both worlds. Patients can receive discounts on their medication, making the drugs they rely on for their health more affordable. At the same time, increased transparency helps pharmacies maintain revenue.
- Cash pricing is displayed during processing and dispensing. The pharmacist-in-charge can make informed decisions regarding price within their existing workflow.
- By integrating with pharmacy management software, inventory and costs of acquisition are readily available.
- Clear transaction fees allow pharmacists to accurately predict profits and revenue.
- Price comparisons are displayed for self-pay, insurance, and cash pricing.
Utilizing the RxCashAssist program presents a great opportunity to educate patients. Instead of accepting well-known cash cards, pharmacies must communicate the value of cash pricing to their patients. Proper signage, marketing materials, and in-store conversations can help mitigate any doubt or confusion.
Which program helps your bottom line?
When you compare cash cards with the TDS cash assistance program, the answer is clear: RxCashAssist is the only drug cash pricing program that considers the unique needs of independent pharmacies. Patients can receive the same benefits that cash cards provide including making medications more affordable for patients that are uninsured or underinsured. More affordable medication can help improve medication adherence and overall health outcomes.
For the pharmacy, RxCashAssist prevents the deterioration of revenue. By offering affordable prescription pricing, independent pharmacies can maintain customer loyalty and help their patients. Pharmacists also have increased transparency and the ability to compare pricing at the time of dispensing.
Protect Your Bottom Line with RxCashAssist from TDS
RxCashAssist is not a traditional cash card. This unique program is designed to benefit uninsured and underinsured patients while protecting an independent pharmacy’s revenue.
If you are concerned about the impact of cash cards and prescription discount programs on your bottom line, visit tdsclinical.com/rxcashassist to learn more.