Residents without health insurance or those whose insurance doesn’t cover certain prescriptions will now have access to a free discount prescription card that can be used at several area pharmacies.
The Newton County Board of Commissioners approved last week entering into a one-year contract with Florida-based Financial Marketing Concepts, which offers the Coast2Coast Rx free prescription drug discount cards nationally.
According to the company’s website, the cards can save consumers as much as 75 percent on some prescriptions, though the website says annual savings are generally 55 percent.
The cards cannot be used in conjunction with any form of insurance, including Medicaid, so the discount will always be off the retail cost of any prescription drug.
However, those who have Medicaid or private insurance can choose to use either their insurance or the discount card. Some insurance plans don’t cover certain prescriptions, so the discount card can supplement certain plans.
“If the cardholder does use our card instead of his or her prescription card, then the cardholder will most likely need to send a copy of the receipt to the insurance company to ensure that the amount paid is applied to the annual deductible,” according to the company’s website.
To pick up a card, residents can go to a participating pharmacy, contact Newton County, or go online to coast2coastrx.com/counties/ga/newton.
The card may be offered at the health department and other public places such as the library in the future; Financial Marketing Concepts pays for printing costs.
Coast2Coast cards are among many such discount drug cards on the market, according to media reports.
Several pharmacies offer their own discount drug cards or programs; some pharmaceutical companies also offer discount programs.
The Association County Commissioners of Georgia endorses the Coast2Coast card, and Newton County Commissioner J.C. Henderson first heard about the card at an ACCG event.
Several officials said that the deal of a free discount drug program sounded too good to be true, so Henderson asked attorney Andrea Gray, who works in the county attorney’s office, to research the program.
Gray reported to the Board of Commissioners last week that she saw no downside to the program. She checked with officials in Oconee County, which uses the program.
Oconee County’s human resources director Malinda Smith told The News Tuesday that the program has been great for her county and citizens and that the county has gotten a good response from the public.
“It’s very easy to implement. I have not seen any downside and haven’t had any citizens call with complaints,” Smith said.
Oconee County has used it since 2012.
From January to April of this year, Oconee County residents filled 346 prescriptions under the plan.
Financial Marketing Concepts offers the cards for free because it gets paid a small fee from pharmacies for every transaction made using the card. Gray said the company did not disclose the fee on its website; according to a February 2012 story by The Press-Enterprise newspaper in Inland, Calif., pharmacies had to pay a $4.25 processing fee for each prescription filled using the cards.
However, the county actually makes some money off the deal.
The county will get a $1.25 royalty fee for every prescription filled.
Oconee County has made $432.50 through April for its 346 prescriptions.
And the county doesn’t even keep the money, but gives it to charity. Gray said Newton County could do the same or keep the revenue.
Gray said because the cards are not insurance, the county does not carry any liability.
By entering into the contract, the county does agree to puts its logo on the discount cards and endorse them.
The county also encourages pharmacies and county agencies to place the cards in their offices to increase distribution.
Gray said the county does have to appoint an employee to handle paperwork associated with the card.
There are 13 local pharmacies listed as participating on Coast2Coast’s website, including four CVS locations, two Krogers, the Walgreens on Brown Bridge Road, Publix, the Walmart on Industrial Boulevard, Rite-Aid and Peoples Drug Store.
The only possible negative associated with the cards is the fact that another company is tracking your medication purchases, according to a Dec. 9, 2012, story by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, quoting Rich Sagall, founder of NeedyMeds, a nonprofit company that issues such cards.