Discount drug card program in place in county
Franklin County officially unveiled the new Coast2Coast Rx card program at a press conference on Wednesday where officials with the program talked about the card’s benefits and tried to alleviate any concerns the public had about using the card at local, non-chain pharmacies.
The program, which is made possible through the Florida-based Financial Marketing Concepts, Inc. (FMC), is marketed as a free discount prescription drug program that can provide savings on 60,000 drugs listed on the national drug registry, with some program officials saying savings could be as high as 85 percent.
Ron Howard, a distribution partner for FMC, said on Wednesday that the discount card is free to the consumer and free to the county and the county will actually generate revenue from the use of the cards through a dispensing fee that is already built in to the price of the drug.
“This card will generate $1 for every prescription filled using the card so it is really a win-win situation for the county and the residents,” he said.
Howard pointed out the discount card would be the most beneficial for those who are uninsured, even though residents with insurance could still possibly benefit from the program.
“This program is open to anyone regardless of their age, income or their health status,” he said. “If you don’t have insurance or if you are insured but have a high deductible, co-pay or the drug you need is excluded from coverage, you will pretty much receive a discount every time you use the card.”
Howard said the reason the discount card worked more often for the uninsured is because the price for someone with insurance might be lower than the discount card.
“Blue Cross may have a better price for a certain medication than a person with insurance can get with the discount card, but it never hurts to have the pharmacist check to make sure,” Howard said.
Some local pharmacists offer a discounted “best cash value” price to people who do not have insurance and sometimes this price is lower than the price offered with the discount card, which has local pharmacists questioning the card’s value in the community.
Stapp Harrison, the supervising pharmacist at Russellville Pharmacy, has his doubts about the card’s supposed benefits.
“Most of the time, if something sounds too good to be true, it is,” Harrison said.
“I think it’s great that Franklin County will receive $1 when people use these, but I don’t think it’s going to benefit people like it’s made out to sound like it would.”
Harrison said that he has ran five items through the Coast2Coast system to see what charges would be incurred on the patients. In each instance he found that the prescription would cost the patient more than what the pharmacy’s best cash price was.
Harrison did acknowledge that the card could be beneficial in areas where there were many large retail pharmacies, but he said in communities like Franklin County, where the majority of pharmacies are locally owned, it would have a negative impact.
Harrison said he was disappointed that local officials chose not to ask pharmacies in the area what they thought of the program before they agreed to participate.
“I wish we had been asked what we thought and how it would affect our businesses,” Harrison said.
Harrison said the pharmacy would be more than happy to run a customer’s prescription through the Coast2Coast system to see if it would benefit them, but he does not expect that to be the case.
Howard said that even if a pharmacy’s best cash value price is a better deal than using the discount card, he still thinks the card will have benefits in the area.
“If a pharmacy has discounted their price so low that the discount card doesn’t need to be used, it still hasn’t hurt anyone to check the prices and make sure the customer is paying the lowest amount,” Howard said.
“Think of it this way: that uninsured person may have never even come to the pharmacy to get the prescription filled in the first place because they might have assumed it would be too much money. Since he had the discount card, he decided to come down and see what the price would be.
“Whether the discount card’s price or the pharmacy’s price is lower doesn’t matter. This person saved money, has their prescription, and will now probably become a regular customer because of it.”
Probate Judge Barry Moore said he hoped the card would benefit the county’s residents.
“We are looking to ease the financial burdens many families and individuals are facing,” Moore said. “This card won’t necessarily help everyone but if it helps 50 percent of the citizens here, especially ones without insurance, then we’re glad to be able to do that.”
Howard said the Coast2Coast Rx card would be available at the Franklin County Commission Office and in many doctors’ offices, pharmacies and government offices throughout the county. All a person has to do is pick up a card and tell a participating pharmacy the county’s code.
Howard said almost all major chain pharmacies accept the Coast2Coast Rx card and many of the local pharmacies will accept the card as well.
“This card will also work for pet medications and will provide many dental and vision discounts too,” he said.
Howard said the card is code-driven, which means the discount is given through the county’s code and not a code that is specific to each person or family. Because of this, the Coast2Coast Rx cards can also be printed online.
To print a card or for any other information or questions about the program, visit the Coast2Coast Rx card website at www.coast2coastrx.com.