Sunday, November 30, 2014

Isabella Stewart Gardner museum has several ways to visit for free or for very little

Add this museum to the list of Boston museums that are accepting EBT cards for discounted admission; they will let in up to four people per card for $2 each. They also offer free admission on your birthday, and free admission at any time if your name is Isabella.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Museum of Fine Arts doesn't actually want people using their discounted admissions for EBT card holders

I previously wrote about how cool the MFA's discount program is. Last week I was told that they don't accept debit/credit payment for the reduced admission. Their website doesn't say anything about this, but the person at the counter and the manager were both adamant about this, stating "we aren't set up to process transactions at that price point." This seems to violate the Dodd-Frank act, since businesses can require a minimum purchase of up to $10 for credit cards, but cannot do so for debit cards (four $3 EBT admissions to the MFA is $12). They do have an ATM in the building, but seemed unsympathetic to the fact that this would result in the ATM and my bank charging me fees that are as much as the ticket.

Here are the links for reporting them to MasterCard and to Visa for violation of merchant policies.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Did you know Masshealth covers over-the-counter drugs?

I recently learned that Masshealth covers a number of OTC drugs if you get a prescription for them. My primary care provider actually knew this when I brought it up, but hadn't ever informed me of it. My PCP was happy to write me prescriptions for iron, antacids, Aleve, and so forth. I did have a copay of $3.65 per prescription, so some of these products might be available cheaper through coupon stacking. If you're buying these things full-price though, most of them are quite a bit more than $3.65 for a month's supply. For children under 21, there is no copay, so definitely ask for prescriptions for any cold medications, Tylenol, etc. that your kids use.

The list of what they cover is here. I was pretty amazed at first to see that they cover a lot of medicine-cabinet items like rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, and hydrocortizone ointment, but then remembered the copay; these items are available at Dollar Tree, and even at CVS or Wegman's are less than $3.65. Still, it seems like a great public health policy to make them available and convenient, and I imagine it cuts down on things that just should not be happening in a wealthy country, like people developing massive infections because they couldn't afford first-aid supplies. The Masshealth guidelines do state that pharmacies and hospitals have to let members have their treatment even if they owe copays, so hopefully this policy combined with the OTC coverage is getting people what they need.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Groupon now offering pyramid scheme where you can get free stuff

I hadn't looked at Groupon in a while (like, years) because the deals used to mostly be for yuppieish entertainment and recreation tickets, which while they were good deals, weren't really the sort of thing we were looking for or had extra money for. It seemed also that all the ones I saw back in the day were set up so that people would see the deal, recruit friends, make plans to go to the paint bar or Harbor cruise or whatever, then if not enough people would buy the Groupon for it to happen, my friends who were into Groupons would still end up patronizing the business at full price since they'd gotten excited about their plans. Brilliant business model, but yeah.

So, today I was pleasantly surprised when a friend posted a link to some steeply discounted holiday photo cards and saw that the deal was one in which they were already steeply discounted, then could result in even more of a discount if the purchaser recruited more purchasers through his/her link. I clicked through and saw that they've also greatly expanded their offerings and have a lot of discounts on things like more ordinary household purchases (BJs memberships, printing services at Staples, pet supplies, clothing, tires) and inexpensive local recreation (soccer field rentals, dance classes for kids, roller skating). There's a new "basics" section that has decent deals on things like diapers and shampoo. The prices aren't as good as what you could get combining coupons and sales, but it's a lot less effort.

Anyway, to the point, they now have a thing where if you sign up using someone's referral link and then make a purchase of at least $10 in the next 72 hours, they get $10 to use on Groupon. So, check out Groupon, if you see something you like, use my link to make your account, then tell all your friends about it so you can get free stuff too.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Free cereal, oatmeal, bottled water, ranch dip at Stop and Shop this week

This week, you can get Malt-O-Meal cereal, Essentia water, Hidden Valley Ranch dip mix, Quaker Real Medleys oatmeal all for free using printable online coupons. There are a couple more free items too if you use coupons from the Sunday paper. Remember, Stop and Shop's sales change on Fridays, so this is good today through next Thursday.