County considers prescription drug discount card

Jane Howard

If county commissioners decide to get on board, Cook County residents may be able to save an average of 22-24 percent on prescriptions not covered by insurance, thanks to Cook County’s membership in the National Association of Counties (NACo). During its regular meeting on Tuesday, November 9, commissioners had a conference call with NACo Director of Membership Marketing Andrew Goldschmidt, who launched NACo’s prescription drug card program six years ago.

NACo has an agreement with CVS Caremark, a company that negotiates with pharmacies to offer discounts. More than 60,000 pharmacies nationwide participate in this network, including Walgreens, WalMart, and in Cook County, Arrowhead Pharmacy.

If the county elects to participate, any resident—regardless of income or health status—can pick up a card at no cost or print one from the Internet. No enrollment process is required. Many diabetic supplies and even prescriptions for pets, if they are for medications also taken by humans, are covered. Counties can use the cards to buy medications for people in jail. Some medications, particu- larly long-term prescriptions refilled every 90 days, can be received through mail orders.

The card covers prescriptions for medications that are not covered by insurance or Medicare and that are not part of an insurance deductible. Cardholders pay either the retail price or the negotiated discount price, whichever is lower.

Neither NACo nor participating counties receive any revenue from the program. The cost to the county would be a couple hours of administration a month at the most, which Public Health & Human Services Director Sue Futterer said her department could handle. The benefit to participating pharmacies is that it brings customers into their businesses.

The county board is pursuing the option of joining this network, and if it does, coming onboard would take about ten weeks. Currently, people from other counties can use their cards at Arrowhead Pharmacy.

“I see a lot of seniors falling through the Medicare doughnut holes,” Cook County Senior Center Director Bev Green said. “It’s a big issue with the seniors – the cost. Twenty percent puts a little more food on the table or gives them a little extra money to pay their gas bills.”

“I see it as a ‘win-win,’” said NACo’s Goldschmidt.

Information on participating pharmacies can be obtained online at naco or by calling 1(877)321- 2652.

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