GoodRx: Many customers face hurdles in accessing drug copay cards

Copay cards and other savings programs are commonly offered as a way to help consumers save on their drug costs.

new study from GoodRx, however, suggests many consumers face significant barriers in accessing these discounts. The prescription discount company found that 67% of copay savings programs are hard for consumers to access.

In addition, nearly 40% of these programs are unavailable to the uninsured, the report found.

Amanda Brooks, a member of the research team and the lead author of the study, told Fierce Healthcare that data available online about these programs are often incomplete, and the challenges patients face can vary even in between one manufacturer's slate of products.

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That means eligibility and usage are often unclear, she said. And these challenges are most felt for the highest priced products.

"It gets more and more difficult as it gets to specialty drugs," Brooks said.

The most common challenge is the need for patient information upfront when enrolling them in the discounts, according to the report. Brooks said this often included a slew of details such as their specific member ID number and health plan group number on top of authorization from a physician.

The analysis found that for 17% of coupons, patients experience more than one barrier to access.

The number of these coupons is growing, too, the report found. In 2009, there were fewer than 100 copay cards and other coupons available for brand-name medications. In 2019, there were 700 such discounts available.

More consumers are also using the coupons, with use rising by more than 50% since 2010, according to the report.