Counties Push Prescription Discount Cards

Available free, but don’t work with insurance

By Chip Rowe

Putnam County residents have saved nearly $1.3 million since the county joined a prescription discount program in 2012 and mailed a wallet card to every household in the county, a representative of the company that manages it told the County Legislature’s Health Committee at its Aug. 9 meeting.

Caitlin Carey of ProAct, based in Syracuse, said that 50 counties in the state now offer its discount card to residents.

 “I would like to see more people take advantage of this,” said Barbara Scuccimarra (R-Philipstown), who chairs the Health Committee.

Dutchess County, meanwhile, partners with the National Association of Counties to offer its residents a discount card. And New York State has teamed up with yet another company, United Networks of America, to provide its own card.

The discount cards, available online, are designed for people who don’t have insurance, or who have high co-pays. The companies that administer them — and there are dozens — negotiate discounts with pharmacies or chains, then earn a fee from the pharmacy each time the card used.

That’s why the cards are distributed at no charge. The more people that use them, the more fees are collected.

Lower-Cost Prescription Resources

Needy Meds | 888-602-2978 | needymeds.org

Partnership for Prescription Assistance | 888-477-2669 | pparx.org

Community Action Partnership (Dutchess County) | 845-452-5104 | dutchesscap.org

Pharmacies participate in the programs, explained Dr. Richard Sagall at NeedyMeds.com, a nonprofit he co-founded, for a number of reasons. They profit even at the negotiated price, and they might make a sale to someone who would otherwise walk out. It also gets customers into the store and, if another, nearby pharmacy honors the card, keeps them competitive.

The companies who create the cards (ProAct is a subsidiary of Kinney Drugs, a chain based in Gouverneur) market them to municipalities as a way to assist residents with high drug costs.

Even if someone has insurance, card marketers encourage them to ask pharmacists to run prescriptions through on the discount card to see if they cost less than the co-pay. The card also is useful, they say, if a drug is not covered by insurance because the consumer gets the negotiated rate.

Then-County Legislator Sam Oliverio Jr., is shown in 2012 with the ProAct prescription discount card that was sent to county residents. (Photo by Holly Crocco)

ProAct and other card companies have also signed up vision and dental services, hearing aid providers, gyms and other health providers to offer discounts.

Residents of Putnam County may obtain a ProAct discount card at proactrxsavings.com or by calling 877-776-2285. In the Highlands, Drug World of Cold Spring participates.

In Dutchess County, residents can obtain a card at narorx.org, or by calling 877-321-2651. In Beacon, Rite Aid at 320 Main St. and Vogel Pharmacy at 234 Main St. participate.

The New York State discount card, available at newyorkrxcard.com, is accepted at Rite Aid in Beacon and Walmart in Fishkill.

Drugstores often offer their own cards. Rite Aid, for instance, has a loyalty program that provides 15 percent off many drugs.

Holly Crocco contributed reporting.

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