New prescription discount card available to all county residents

By Tony Parra

The Roosevelt CountyRX Prescription Discount Card is now available for everyone, but it may not be an alternative for those who have health plan coverage.

The prescription drug card is free, does not require the user to pay for insurance or an annual fee, no income requirements and no age requirements. Charlene Hardin, Roosevelt County Administrator, said it is being offered to county residents at no cost to the county.

“The main goal of the program is to help the uninsured residents in the county,” Hardin said.

The prescription cards offer an average savings of 20 percent on the retail price of commonly prescribed drugs, according to Andrew Goldschmidt, director/membership marketing for the National Association of Counties.

“The idea is to help residents,” Goldschmidt said. “It’s not meant to replace health insurance coverage. It’s to help uninsured residents or to help pay for prescription drugs, not covered by the insurance companies.”

Roosevelt County is a member of NACo, which has an agreement with Caremark to provide the service. Caremark Rx, Inc. is a leading pharmaceutical services company, providing through its affiliates comprehensive drug benefit services to over 2,000 health plan sponsors. The company officials operate a national retail pharmacy network with over 60,000 participating pharmacies for delivery of advanced medications to individuals with chronic or genetic diseases and disorders.

Goldschmidt said the reason they are able to provide the free service is because of the agreement Caremark has with the participating pharmacies.

“They have a contract with the pharmacies already and the pharmacies get an increase in traffic,” Goldschmidt said. “The vendor makes a small amount on each prescription drug sold.”

A national network of more than 57,000 participating retail pharmacies also will honor the NACo prescription discount card.

“Roosevelt County is proud to be one of the counties nationwide participating with NACo,” Roosevelt County Administrator Charlene Hardin said. “The NACo prescription discount card offers significant savings for the uninsured residents of our county and even those fortunate to have prescription coverage can use the card to save money on drugs that are not covered by their health plan. Residents do not have to be Medicare beneficiaries to be eligible for this program.”

Roosevelt County has a contract agreement until 2008 with NACo. Hardin said the county pays a membership fee of about $350 a year. Goldschmidt said NACo officials provide other services besides the program to the county. Goldschmidt said they help with training and conferences for county officials, research and survey projects for the county, printing and marketing. Goldschmidt said Caremark officials paid for the cost of printing the discount cards.

“It’s been successful so far,” Goldschmidt said. “We’ve received a lot of positive feedback. NACo doesn’t make money and the county doesn’t make money from the program.

The discount card program started on Monday in Roosevelt County. Goldschmidt said all 33 New Mexico counties are NACo members. He said of those 33 counties, officials for Colfax, Mora, San Juan, Sierra, Taos and San Miguel have started the prescription drug card program.

San Miguel County was one of the first counties in the United States to provide the discount card service. Les Montoya, San Miguel County Administrator, said Leroy Garcia, San Miguel County commissioner, was instrumental in bringing the program to San Miguel County.

Montoya said since the start of the discount drug program there have been 1,150 users in San Miguel County and they have saved between 24 to 32 percent with their prescription cards. The user has saved an average of $9-to-$13 per prescription drug purchase and the county residents have saved $32,243 since the inception of the program in San Miguel County, according to Montoya.

Montoya said San Miguel County pays $500 a year to be a member of NACo. Goldschmidt said the membership fee is based on county population.

The prescription cards can be picked up at the Roosevelt County Indigent Office, Roosevelt General Hospital, La Casa de Buena Salud, Community Services Center, Senior Citizen’s Center and Mental Health Resources.

The cards may be used at Village Pharmacy, Wal-Mart and B&J Drug inside Russell’s Super Save store.