GoodRx Review: It’s Not All Good at GoodRx

4.0 rating

Chances are you have seen the GoodRx tv commercials, a display full of their prescription discount cards at your doctor’s office, urgent care lobby, or veterinarians office, or have even been told about GoodRX directly from your doctor, pharmacist, pharmacy technician, friend, or family member. But, what is GoodRx, how does it work, and can YOU save money on your prescription drugs?

In this review I’m going to answer your questions and discuss my experience as a pharmacist with GoodRx as well as give you the insider knowledge nobody else will, including some GoodRx alternatives you can trust that might save you even more.

What is GoodRx?

GoodRx is a technology company based in Santa Monica, CA founded in 2011 by former Facebook and Yahoo employees to help people price shop prescription medications.

Founder Doug Hirsch was alarmed at the cost of a medication he was prescribed in 2010 and started price shopping to find a lower price. He realized there wasn’t a one-stop place for consumers to compare prices on prescription drugs…and GoodRx was born.

GoodRx, now well known for being the go-to price comparison website due to a very heavy and effective marketing and brand awareness campaign, has grown to offer additional services in addition to their price comparison website and mobile app such as:

  • GoodRx Gold: it’s own membership discount service
  • GoodRx Care: a telehealth service
  • Data collection and information services for drug companies and PBMs

How does GoodRx make money as a business?

GoodRx has several income streams that bring in over and estimated 100 million in earnings each year according as of 2018. The actual numbers aren’t publically available since the company is privately owned. The income streams include:

  • PBM administrative fee sharing
  • Advertising
  • Data collection services and information sales

I’ll discuss each of these in detail below.

PBM administrative fee sharing

GoodRx makes money every time someone uses one of their coupons to fill a prescription. The PBMs (Pharmacy Benefit Managers..think prescription insurance companies) they contract with collect fees from the pharmacy and share a portion of the fees with GoodRx as describe in my article, “How prescription discount cards work“. On average these fees range from $8-15 per prescription but some are much higher.

This is guaranteed to be the largest portion the company’s revenue with over 10 million users a month.


GoodRx collects revenue from ads on it’s website and within the GoodRx mobile app. Like any website, when an ad is displayed using an ad broker service a portion of the proceeds are shared with the displaying website. The website owner gets an even larger share when the ad is clicked on by a user. So make sure to click on those GoodRx ads on this page if you are going to check your prescription pricing šŸ™‚

GoodRx also charges companies to advertise on their price comparison platform. Companies like and pay a fee for their prices to be displayed on the GoodRx drug pricing page.

Data collection services and information sales

GoodRx collects information both through its software and via the information the pharmacy sends to the PBM when it adjudicates a prescription claim (standard industry practice). They use this information to sell HIPAA compliant, aggregate information to outside vendors like drug companies and PBMs to track drug utilization, pricing, and other trends.

If you are concerned about your privacy this might be very concerning given the discoveries revealed by Consumer Reports recently. GoodRx states they store your information in a secure manner but you know like every other company this security may be breached at some point. The good news is they are required by the HIPAA regulations to disclose what personal information they have on you if you request it.

How does GoodRx work to reduce drug prices?

GoodRx looks and works like any other prescription discount card on the surface, but it is actually different when you dig into the details. GoodRx doesn’t actually do any of the price negotiation. GoodRx partners with several PBM’s and is just the technology to display the contracted prices from each partner PBM all in one place. I’ll discuss why this is terrible from a user’s perspective below.

How much can you save with GoodRx?

GoodRx advertises savings of up to 80% on their website however savings this high are few and far between. Users should expect to receive and average discount around 50% but the actual discount is depended on the specific drug, quantity, and pharmacy you choose to use.

Some drugs you may even be able to save up to 95% with their paid GoodRx Gold membership service. You can read more about how that works and how it compares to a similar discount service that is FREE in “Blink Health vs GoodRx Gold: The Ultimate Showdown“.

Can you use GoodRx if you have insurance, Medicaid, or Medicare?

The short answer is yes, EVERYONE can use GoodRx or any prescription discount card for that matter regardless of insured status.

The caveat is that you cannot use GoodRx in combination with your insurance. You can use GoodRx to compare the discounted price with your insurance price and choose to use the lowest cost option. Put simply, it’s one or the other.

The good in GoodRx

GoodRx is free! Everyone can use it to save on medications even those for your pets.

It’s a great platform for price comparison shopping of your prescription medications. The website and app are both intuitive and easy to use. The app even saves and organizes your past searches and coupons for easy retrieval. You can enter your phone number or e-mail address to receive price alerts and refill reminders which can be helpful.

GoodRx has a discounted price for every FDA approved prescription medication in addition to certain vitamins and OTC medications.

GoodRx even includes store memberships, pharmacy discount lists, and even some free medication programs in it’s price comparison tool.

GoodRx, through its several PBM partnerships is contracted with practically every pharmacy in America, that’s over 70,000 pharmacies including the major chains like Walgreens, CVS, and Rite Aid in addition to grocery stores like Walmart, Publix, Albertson’s, and Kroger. Many local, independently owned pharmacies are also technically contracted but typically won’t accept GoodRx coupons. I’ll discuss why below.

It’s not all good though…

Here is some information that you aren’t going to see in any other review of GoodRx. This is insider information that only a pharmacist, pharmacy technician, or GoodRx representative will be able to tell you…and you know the GoodRx employee isn’t going to do it.

GoodRx doesn’t show you the absolute best price available.

Like any company GoodRx has it’s best interest in mind so it only displays the pricing of it’s partners or the paying advertisers. You won’t find the free medication lists from several pharmacies displayed on the GoodRx pricing page since those pharmacies haven’t paid to have them advertised on GoodRx. You also won’t find the extremely discounted prices from competitors like Blink Health or SingleCare.

The paper card is rarely the best price

GoodRx sends medical offices displays full of branded discount cards to place in the patient rooms or waiting areas. They have convinced many physicians and nurses to hand out their discount cards to patients with every prescription.

The issue with this is that the information on the paper card is the billing information for only one of the many PBMs GoodRx partners with. From my experience the paper card is rarely the best price available through GoodRx and is most likely the PBM they receive the highest fee share from to pad their profits. Your best bet is to keep the app handy on your phone and use that to price your medication.

You might be getting ripped off

Some of GoodRx’s contracted pbm’s don’t use “lower-of” pricing so may be paying more than the pharmacies regular cash price. You can read more about how “lower-of” pricing works, why it is so important and an example of how you might be getting ripped off here.

The gist is that the price you pay with a prescription discount card is the negotiated discount price for the medication with some fees tacked on. Sometimes the price plus the fees combined are more than what the pharmacy would normal charge as a straight cash price.

The best prescription discount cards don’t want to rip you off so they recognize when this happens and pass along the cheaper of the two prices whether it’s the card price of the pharmacy’s straight cash price.

Independent community pharmacies hate them

I don’t even think hate is a strong enough word here, it’s more like abhor, but why?

The hatred is purely with how the PBM’s operate and administer the discount cards (and your typical insurance plan for that matter). If you’ve read my article on how prescription discount cards work you’ll know that the PBM determines the price the pharmacy charges your for the medication and collects a fee from the pharmacy for this action.

Sometimes your price for the medication is fair for both the pharmacy and for you. Many times the fee the pharmacy is charged after your pay your copay will result in them paying more to acquire the medication and dispensing it to you than what you paid after the PBM collects their fee. This results in a loss for the business.

Independent pharmacies typically already have fair cash prices for most medications unlike the chain pharmacies such as Walgreens and CVS. They also derive almost all of their income from the sale of prescription medications, up to 92% whereas the corporate chains only rely on prescription medications for about 60% of their revenue, they make the rest on the other convenience store items they sell like alcohol, greeting cards, etc.

The mom and pop shops are also part of your community sponsoring local sports teams, donating to local charities and causes, and overall being a better corporate citizen of your local area than any large corporate chain pharmacy.

Inaccurate price quotes

If you look at anyof the complaints about GoodRx on the BBB or on Trustpilot almost 100% of them are in regards to inaccurate price quotes. I’ve seen it hundreds of times over the years. A patient brings in a GoodRx coupon saying a medication is a certain price and when we adjudicate the claim the price returned is something far different. Then the patient gets mad at the pharmacy employees due to the error on GoodRx’s part.

I’ve already mentioned it above but it’s work mentioning again. GoodRx is only a technology company that displays the discounted drug pricing from multiple pharmacy benefit managers and therefore has no control over drug pricing. It relies on it’s partner PBMS to negotiate prices with pharmacies and is the crux of the inaccurate pricing concern.

What causes inaccurate prices?

The pricing you get when using GoodRx can be inaccurate for a number of reasons. These reason can include (listed in order of probability):

  • You quoted something that doesn’t exactly match your prescription (different strength of the drug, different quantity, etc)
  • You printed the coupon on a different day than you filled your prescription
  • The list price of the drug has changed and hasn’t been updated by the PBM when reporting to GoodRx
  • A specific manufacturer is required to get the quoted price

Human Error

Since you may have trouble reading the prescription if it’s handwritten by the doctor and your not specifically trained like the pharmacy personal to decipher the codes physicians and pharmacist use you may not be able to accurately quote exactly what your prescription is written for. If you ever have questions about your prescription ask the nurse of pharmacy technician to help you out.

Drug list price changes

Drug prices can change frequently based on market demands, production capacity, and a number of other factors, sometimes even daily. When you print your GoodRx coupon in relation to when you fill your prescription matters.

The list price could change and one PBM’s price may be the cheapest one day and another may be the cheapest the next. Or the PBM’s price may not be accurately updated with GoodRx when you use their pricing tool.

A specific manufacturer is required

In rare occurrences the list price for a certain manufacturer’s product is different than the list prices for the same medication made by another company. The PBMs sometimes notice this and require a specific manufacturer to be dispensed by the pharmacy to obtain their quoted price.

I can tell you first hand, pharmacies despise this practice. Not only is the PBM determining what they can charge the patient for the medication but in these instances they are determining the actual product too.

The cost the pharmacy pays to buy the medication from their wholesaler is likely more expensive for any specific manufacture they have to special order. This reduces their overall profit on the prescription and may even deepen their loses.

This is less likely to be a concern at the major chain pharmacies compared to independent pharmacies since they are likely to make up for the loses with your purchases of convenience items like candy and pop.

What you can do to ensure you are getting the best price with GoodRx every time.

  1. You have to check the GoodRx pricing and potentially print out a new coupon EVERY SINGLE TIME you fill your prescription to get the best pricing. If you don’t then you may not be getting the lowest possible price.
  2. The pricing you are quoted on GoodRx one day may not be accurate the next if you delay filling your prescription so make sure you do the price quote and print the coupon on the same day your fill your prescription.
  3. If the price is still different call GoodRx to figure out the root of the discrepancy.

The bottomline on GoodRx

The bottomline on GoodRx is that it does a great job for those want to compare prices on their medications. The app and website are user friendly, you can definitely save a ton of money if you are uninsured or have a high deductible and fill your prescriptions at one of the major chain pharmacies.

There are some major concerns however as stated above with the existing rip-off potential, lack of ALL of the best pricing options, and pricing inaccuracies leading the way.

GoodRx alternatives that you can trust

Personal favorite is SingleCare, you can ready why in my in-depth review or you can read my article on how GoodRx and SingleCare stack up side by side. You can see other recommended options on my recommended products and services page including ways to get steeply discounted prices AND have the medications shipped directly to your house.


As a practicing community pharmacist in his home state of Michigan, Joe (AKA TheFrugalPharmacist) is always on the lookout for new information and ways to ensure you can afford your medications and don't get ripped off in America's complicated world of healthcare.

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