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Prescription discount cards endorsed by county

COVINGTON -- Free prescription discount cards will soon be available to county residents with the endorsement of the Board of Commissioners.

A majority of commissioners endorsed the Coast2Coast Rx Card and its distribution in Newton at Tuesday's board meeting.

The county will enter into an agreement with Financial Marketing Concepts Inc., a Florida corporation, to distribute the cards at various locations, such as health departments, libraries and pharmacies, throughout the county.

The cards are not insurance cards but offer a discount on prescriptions, vision, hearing and dental services, a diabetes savings program, imaging and lab tests and veterinary services.

According to material provided by the corporation, the program includes participation by more than 59,000 U.S. pharmacies to provide annual savings of up to 55 percent. Savings on a single prescription range from a few percent up to 75 percent, or more, off the retail price of the drug. Cardholders save on both brand name and generic drugs. There are 15 participating pharmacies in Newton. All members of a family can use the card with no age, income or other exclusions. However, cardholders cannot use both their insurance cards and the Coast2Coast Rx Card for a service or prescription, and prescriptions purchased through the program are not eligible for reimbursement through Medicaid, Medicare or any other government program.

The county's participation in the program is the idea of Commissioner J.C. Henderson, who first learned about it at an Association County Commissioners of Georgia conference. Henderson asked Andrea Gray with the County Attorney's Office to investigate. Gray said she has heard nothing but good reports, including from the human resources director of Oconee County, one of 25 counties in the state where the cards are distributed.

There is no cost to the county, other than endorsing the program by allowing the county seal on the card and on letterhead announcing the program to local pharmacies. The county website will also provide a link to a private label website where county residents can print a card, search for pharmacies and search for pricing of medications.

Gray said the cards are beneficial for those without health insurance as well as those whose insurance does not cover a particular medication. For example, one woman she talked with who has the card has to take allergy medication that is not covered by her insurance. The cost of the medication is $90 and the discount obtained through the Coast2Coast Card is $30. Those with high deductible plans can use the card and mail receipts in to the insurance company to count towards their deductibles.

The county will receive a royalty of $1.25 for every prescription filled using the card. In Oconee County, that amounts to about $125 per month, Gray said. Oconee County donates the royalties to charity, but that's not a requirement, she said.

Commissioners agreed to endorse the program by a vote of 4 to 0, with Commissioner John Douglas abstaining. Douglas expressed skepticism that the county could get "something for nothing" and said it doesn't sound like much in royalties will be generated. He later made a motion to have a quarterly report made to the board regarding the program, which was unanimously approved.

Gray said the program has resulted in good publicity for Oconee County and goodwill from citizens there who do not have insurance.

The agreement with Financial Marketing Concepts is for one year, with automatic annual renewals, unless terminated with 30 days notice.

Cards can be obtained at local pharmacies that are willing to display them at the counter; online at www.coast2coastrx.com and other places designated by the county. Gray said the county is working on a list of locations. The cards were expected to be available for printing on the Coast2CoastRx website this week. The printing and distribution process for the paper cards will take five to six weeks.