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How do prescription discount apps work?

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How they workSaving moneyPrescription drug costsDo they always save money?Summary
Prescription discount apps work similarly to discount coupons and cards. You download them to your mobile device, search for the medication you need, and find where to buy it locally at up to 80% off.
Medically reviewed by Debra Sullivan, Ph.D., MSN, R.N., CNE, COI
Written by Faye Stewart
Updated on February 13, 2024

You don’t need health insurance to use a prescription discount app. If you do have health insurance, you can’t use the two together, but you can use flexible spending accounts (FSAs) and health savings accounts (HSAs) to help pay for the prescription drugs you need.

Prescription discount programs like Optum Perks help you save money on your medications by comparing costs and negotiating discounts to get you the lowest price.

A mobile prescription discount app, like the Optum Perks app, lets you search for your prescriptions to find, save, share, and use coupons to save money directly from your phone.

How does the Optum Perks app work?

Adult male sitting at a wooden table looking at a tablet device possibly wondering how do prescription discount apps work
Juno/Stocksy United

Prescription discount apps, like the Optum Perks app, work in many ways for convenience.

You can download the app directly onto your phone. When you’re ready to fill a prescription, open the app and search for your medication.

Once you have searched for your specific drug, results will display prices by location in the app’s map feature. You can also choose to view results without the map.

You can save any number of coupons to use later — when you’re ready to check out at the pharmacy, show the pharmacist the coupon on your phone.

You can even share prescription coupons with friends and family through the app.

How can Optum Perks help you save money?

Prescription prices change throughout the year, and it can be difficult to keep track.

Optum Perks has a dedicated pricing team to help you find the best price for your prescription medications. So far, the team has saved people over $1.7 billion on prescription medications at over 64,000 pharmacies nationwide where the discount card is accepted, including Costco, Walmart, CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid.

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About prescription drug costs

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), data collected between 2015 and 2018 shows 48.6% of people in the United States use at least one prescription medication monthly.

As of February 2019, 24% of adults and 23% of older adults reported difficulty paying for their prescriptions, and prescription costs continue to rise. In fact, between 2022 and 2023, more than 4,000 drugs increased in price. The average increase was 15.2%, which equates to almost $600 per drug product.

Prescription discount programs can be important in helping people overcome potential financial barriers, like lack of insurance or high out-of-pocket expenses.

Do prescription discount apps always save you money?

Prescription discount cards, coupons, and apps can save you money in many instances. However, it’s important to remember a few key points:

  • Health insurance may save you more money: If you have insurance and a copayment applies to prescription medications, you may only have to pay some of the total medication costs.
  • Deductibles: If you have insurance but find it’s more cost-effective to use a prescription discount app or coupon, you won’t be able to apply the amount you pay using the coupon to your deductible or out-of-pocket maximum. The out-of-pocket maximum is the total amount you will pay under your plan before your insurer covers costs.
  • Medication availability: Although prescription discount apps include many medications, they may not include the specific drug you need.

If you have insurance, it’s best to check your plan details for covered medications and how much you’ll need to spend out of pocket. Comparing this information to a discount program will help you decide which option best suits your needs.


Prescription discount apps, like the one Optum Perks offers, can be a convenient way to search for, save, and share discount codes and coupons for the medications you need.

Using the app is straightforward: Search for the drug you need, and the results will be displayed by cost and location, making it easy to find the nearest place and best price.

Download the free Optum Perks Discount App to save up to 80% on some prescription medications.

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