Why It’s Still Better To Fill Prescriptions at Costco Than Amazon

Amazon recently announced RxPass, a new pharmacy benefit to help Prime members save time and money on their prescriptions. The company says that with RxPass, Prime members can get "unlimited prescription medications" delivered for just $5 a month. And that cost covers the delivery and all medications. So, what's the catch?

What Is Amazon RxPass and How Much Does Amazon RxPass Cost?

RxPass is a new prescription service benefit for Amazon Prime members. For only $5 a month, Prime members can get all their eligible medications delivered at no extra cost.

If you aren't a Prime member, you can't subscribe to RxPass. So in addition to the $5 monthly subscription rate, you'll need to maintain a Prime membership, which costs $139 annually. You can read more about the benefits of an Amazon Prime membership here. While there are monthly and annual subscription options for Prime, RxPass is charged on the first of each month.

According to John Love, the vice president of Amazon Pharmacy, "Any customer who pays more than $10 a month for their eligible medications will see their prescription costs drop by 50% or more, plus they save time by skipping a trip to the pharmacy."

But depending on what medications you need, you might not be able to fill enough of your prescriptions to make the cost worth it. Keep reading for Clark's thoughts on RxPass and to see how RxPass might compare to other popular pharmacies when filling a few common medications.

What Does Clark Howard Think About Amazon RxPass?

After looking through the eligible medications, money expert Clark Howard still prefers filling his prescriptions at Costco.

“The number of prescriptions I take that are included in RxPass didn’t make it worth my while. I’m still much better off filling my prescriptions at Costco for a fraction of a cost.”

So far, RxPass only includes 53 different medications. But the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reports that, "There are currently more than 20,000 prescription drugs approved for marketing."

Like Clark, you can compare your prescriptions to the RxPass eligible medications to see if RxPass is worth it for you.

What Drugs Are on the Amazon RxPass Drug List?

Amazon has a list of what medications are available through RxPass here. You can view the medications listed alphabetically, search for a drug by name using the site's search bar, or browse for medications by condition.

You can also click on each drug name to review what forms of the drug are available. Medications that are covered by the RxPass subscription fee will say, “Included with RxPass” under the price. For example, here’s what I saw when I clicked the drug Amlodipine:

What Is the Difference Between Amazon Pharmacy and RxPass?

Amazon Pharmacy was launched in 2020 as an online pharmacy option for consumers to fill their prescriptions. You don't need a Prime membership to fill prescriptions with Amazon Pharmacy. But Prime members get medications delivered via free two-day shipping. For non-Prime shoppers, delivery takes four to five days or costs $5.99 for two-day shipping. Amazon Pharmacy fills prescriptions in all 50 states.

RxPass launched in 2023 as a subscription service that’s exclusively available to Amazon Prime members. Currently, RxPass sends medications to 42 states. The subscription is not currently available in California, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Texas or Washington.

While you may be able to use a Health Savings Account (HSA) or Flexible Savings Account (FSA) to pay for prescriptions from Amazon Pharmacy, you can't pay for an RxPass subscription fee with your HSA or FSA.

Additionally, RxPass currently isn’t available for use if you have Medicaid, Medicare or another government-funded insurance.

With Amazon Pharmacy, you pay for each individual medication that you fill and you can choose from brand or generic drugs. But with an RxPass subscription, the $5 monthly fee covers the cost of all eligible generic medications.

Both Amazon Pharmacy and RxPass offer 24/7 pharmacist support for customers. You can read more about the key features of Amazon Pharmacy here.

How Does Amazon RxPass Compare to Other Pharmacies?

To give an idea of how RxPass works compared to other pharmacies, I've put together a few prescription scenarios based on some of the most common drug combinations in the United States using rates from Amazon and GoodRx.

You can read more about how GoodRx works as a comparison-shopping resource for prescriptions here. For each scenario below, the prescription rates are estimates based on filling the prescription in Hampton, GA. Each rate is based on the same dosage and days-supply with no added coupons.

Scenario 1

30-Day Supply of Lisinopril and Hydrochlorothiazide
Lisinopril: $0
(included with $5 subscription fee)
Hydrochlorothiazide: NOT COVERED
Lisinopril: $12.60
Hydrochlorothiazide: $4.99
Lisinopril: $12.81
Hydrochlorothiazide: $6.64
Lisinopril: $16.23
Hydrochlorothiazide: $4.48
Total Cost: Between $9.48 – $11.64
(Depends on where non-covered prescription is filled.)
Total Cost: $17.59
Total Cost: $19.45
Total Cost: $20.71

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Scenario 2

30-Day Supply of Lisinopril, Atorvastatin and Metformin
Lisinopril: $0
(included with $5 subscription fee)
Atorvastatin: $0
(included with $5 subscription fee)
Metformin: NOT COVERED

Lisinopril: $12.60
Atorvastatin: $16.65
Metformin: $11.91

Lisinopril: $12.81
Atorvastatin: $30.26
Metformin: $12.29

Lisinopril: $16.23
Atorvastatin: $21.15
Metformin: $13.72
Total Cost: Between $16.91 - $18.72
(Depends on where non-covered prescription is filled.)
Total Cost: $41.16
Total Cost: $55.36
Total Cost: $51.11

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Scenario 3

30-Day Supply of Lisinopril, Carvedilol and Furosemide
Lisinopril: $0 (included with $5 subscription fee)
Carvedilol: NOT COVERED
Furosemide: $0
(included with $5 subscription fee)

Lisinopril: $12.60
Carvedilol: $11.15
Furosemide: $4.83

Lisinopril: $12.81
Carvedilol: $32.56
Furosemide: $8.22

Lisinopril: $16.23
Carvedilol: $36.44
Furosemide: $11.72
Total Cost: Between $16.15 – $41.44
(Depends on where non-covered prescription is filled.)
Total Cost: $28.58
Total Cost: $53.59
Total Cost: $64.39

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Final Thoughts

The idea of getting all your prescriptions filled and delivered to your door for $5 a month sounds great, but there are many reasons why RxPass might not be worth it. The biggest reason is that the list of eligible medications is not currently very comprehensive.

While Amazon may expand the list of eligible medications in the future, it’s worth shopping around for your specific medication needs to see how you can get the best deal. In the scenarios above, for example, RxPass may seem worth considering if you’re only on one to three prescriptions and at least one or two are eligible.

But there are also many other ways to get deals on the generic medications that RxPass offers. I found that by using coupons from GoodRx, I could further reduce the costs of the several medications from the other pharmacies in the scenarios above. For example, I found a coupon for the Atorvastatin in Scenario 2 that reduced the cost at Costco from $16.65 to $1.65 for a 30-day supply!

Mark Cuban's Cost Plus Drug Company is another tool you can use to comparison shop for the best deal on your prescriptions. Check out how to use Cost Plus Drugs and why Clark recommends the company here.

Ultimately, while the promise of RxPass sounds great, you might find the subscription doesn’t cut it when it comes to getting your medications.

ExploreThis article was originally published on Clark.com

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