More than one-third of Americans use generic drug discount programs­­­­, which offer medication at low prices. Some provide hundreds of generics for just a few dollars per 30-day supply.

The programs can change from year to year, though, so you need to check. CVS and Kroger pharmacies, for example, have done away with their discount programs. CVS representatives said the chain would continue to provide access to low-cost generics via third-party programs such as the Easy Drug Card and UNA Rx Card.

A Kroger official told us its pharmacies accept most third-party plans and are offering “everyday competitive pricing,” though what that means isn’t clear.

Be aware that you might not be able to use government-sponsored insurance like Medicaid or Medicare Part D with some of these discount programs.

And if you have private health insurance, you might have to bypass insurance and pay out of pocket to get the discounted pricing.

In addition, be aware that what you spend on medication through these discount programs won’t count toward your deductible or your out-of-pocket maximums.

Each time you get a new prescription, determine whether using a discount program or your regular health insurance will be less expensive. A pharmacist can check for you before you buy the medication.

What the Chains Are Offering

Chain

Generic Prices

Membership

Bonus

Costco

Prices vary significantly, but you may get up to 70 percent off the prices charged by other pharmacies. Prices are determined at the time of purchase, so you won’t know the cost of a new prescription until the pharmacist tells you.

$55 and up annually. You need to be a member to get the medication discount. But in most states, you don’t have to be a member to use the pharmacy.

Members receive discounts on all prescriptions (not just generics), including pet medication.

Kmart

$5 or $10 for a 30-day supply; $10 or $30 for a 90-day supply

$10 per individual; $15 per family annually

Members pay $3 per month for 10 commonly prescribed generics, including prescription-strength ibuprofen, the antidepressant fluoxetine, and the cholesterol drug simvastatin. Plus 25 percent off all vaccines and 10 percent off prescription pet meds.

Rite Aid

$9.99 for a 30-day supply; $15.99 for a 90-day supply

None

15 percent off select generic and brand-name drugs and select oral contraceptives for $19.99 per month. Plus 50 True Metrix diabetes test strips for $17.99 or TRUEtest strips for $29.99.

Sam's Club

$4 or $10 for a 30-day supply

Plus membership: $100 annually. You don’t need a membership to use the pharmacy.

Members get a 30-day supply of five select generics free, including the antidepressant escitalopram and the type 2 diabetes drug pioglitazone; 10 to 30 percent off select brand-name drugs; and several glucose monitors free. Members can also save 40 percent off generics not on the generic discount list.

Walgreens

$5, $10, or $15 for a 30-day supply; $10, $20, or $30 for a 90-day supply

$20 per individual; $35 per family annually

A one-month supply of one of eight oral contraceptives for $12 to $29.99 and discounts on Cialis and Viagra, insulin, and diabetes test strips. Plus a free Contour or Breeze 2 diabetes monitor.

Walmart 

$4 for a 30-day supply; $10 for a 90-day supply

None

Nine oral contraceptives for $9 per month, and two bone-health drugs for $9 (a 30-day supply) and $24 (a 90-day supply).

Editor's Note: This article also appeared in the May 2017 issue of Consumer Reports On Health.