Drug Discount Cards: 2005

WebMD Medical Reference

What is it?

Until the end of 2005, anyone enrolled in Medicare can apply for an interim drug discount card.

  • The discount card is intended to save you 10% to 25% on prescription drugs.
  • Not all drugs will be covered, and savings on each drug will vary.
  • Where you can use the card will vary. They will be valid only at certain pharmacies. Some will be limited to one or more states. Others will be valid nationwide.
  • The discount card program is temporary. It will help you cover prescription costs until the new Medicare prescription drug program starts in January 2006.

Low-Income Credit

If you are not receiving Medicaid, you may qualify for a yearly credit on the card to help pay for prescriptions. Single people who make $12,919 a year or less, and married couples with an annual income of $17,320 or less are eligible.

If you applied by March 2005, you received the full $600 credit. After that month, the later you apply, the smaller the credit. People who applied between April 1 and June 30 received a $450 credit; those who apply between July 1 and September 30 will get a $300 credit; people who apply between October 1 and December 31 will get a $150 credit.

  • If you meet this condition, your enrollment fee is also waived.
  • The cost of the prescription, minus your co-payment, is applied to the credit.
Co-Insurance
2005 Income Co-Insurance
Less than $9,570 (single) or $12,830 or (married) 5%
Up to $12,920 (single) or $17,321 (married) 10%
  • You can use this credit either until May 15, 2006 or until you sign up for a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan, whichever comes first.. After this point, any remaining credit you have expires.

Discount Cards and Other Coverage

  • You may get a discount card if you have a Medicare managed-care plan, also known as Medicare Advantage (formerly Medicare + Choice.) It may come to you through your plan. If you qualify for the credit, you will get that through your plan, but you will need to ask your plan for the application for that credit.
  • You can use the Medicare-approved card in addition to your state's pharmacy assistance program and any other drug discount card. This includes cards being offered by drug makers, such as Together Rx, GlaxoSmithKline Orange Card, and LillyAnswers. However, generally you cannot combine discounts from these programs. You can use whichever card or program offers you the best price on the medications you are buying. Also, some of the pharmaceutical companies offering these cards may discontinue them once the new Medicare drug benefit starts in 2006.
  • You can get a discount card even if you already have Medigap coverage.
  • If you might qualify for the low-income credit, you must enroll by December 31, 2005.

How Do I Get One?

If you want a discount card, you will buy it from a private company authorized to sell it. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has approved a number of companies to sponsor the discount cards.

  • The fee to enroll will be no more than $30.
  • You can buy a card until Dec. 31, 2005.

To find out more, see the Prescription Drug and Other Assistance Programs page on the Medicare website.


Reviewed by Cynthia Haines, MD, August 2005.

SOURCES: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Medicare.gov web site. National Council on the Aging web site.

© 2005 WebMD Inc. All rights reserved.


For additional Medicare information, please read the following articles:


Last Editorial Review: 12/9/2005




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