Small investment reaps millions in savings

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Prescription drug program available to all Levy Countians

By Lou Elliott Jones, Editor

It’s the offer no one can refuse.

Give me $651 in county money and I’ll give everyone in your county an average discount of 20 percent on their prescriptions.

Heck, if their pets use medicines manufactured for human consumption, I’ll toss in a discount on their prescriptions, too.

And those folks won’t have to pay a fee to get the discount.

Levy County Commissioner Lillie Rooks said that’s just what happened.

“I was at a conference and I was going over some of the information and a NACo (National Association of Counties) rep came up to me and I asked him to give me an explanation,” Rooks said.

“And they said you had to be a member of NACo to participate,” she added. “The cost of that to the county was I think 500 and we voted on it to be a member of NACo.”

The county joined in 2006 and this year will pay $651 in membership fees this year. But county residents, who pay that fee with their taxes will save a lot at the drug counter.

Since then $3,059,509.97 is the full retail value of drugs in the 65,275 prescriptions filled in the program.

Residents have saved $572,176.82.

In a county where the 2000 Census per capita income was $14,746 and half the families in the county were earning below the $30,899 median income, that discount can come in handy.

“All you have to do is what we did – make sure that all the pharmacies in Levy County would accept the card,” Rooks said.

And every pharmacy has the cards on hand, those locally owned and the chains, . If a pharmacy runs out, they contact County Coordinator Freddie Moody’s office and his staff takes them to the pharmacist.

Rooks said when the program was started in Levy they sent cards home with elementary students, placed them at the county’s libraries, and different gathering spots in the county.

There are no forms to fill out, no extra fees, no age, income or family condition to obtain a card. And it covers a variety of medications.

The NACo Prescription Drug Discount Card program was designed for uninsured and underinsured county residents, according to the NACo web site.

The association works with Caremark, which negotiates the discounts to be provided with the local pharmacies.

And the card is welcome at 57,000 pharmacies, the NACo site says.

If a pharmacy prices a medicine lower than the card discounted price, patients will receive the lower pharmacy price for their prescription.

Recently Rooks learned from her pet’s veterinarian that the discount applies to human medications prescribed for pets. “It’s not all prescriptions, so it doesn’t hurt to ask,” Rooks said.

The commissioner sounds astonished to be reciting the amount of money saved by county residents. She said the savings in the county is an average is $8 per prescription.

“I’ve had people stop me and say that they have been able to save $30 on their prescriptions,” she said. “In this economy any savings is good.

“It’s not unusual in my day to day talking to people and stuff to find we have got a lot of people out there that have no medical coverage and that we have a lot of senior citizens out there.”

She said for many, the financial choices come down to: Do you buy food, or pay for medicine or power bill?

Medicine can often be the loser.

“I was very happy NACo brought that forward,” she said. “Fortunately in Levy County we’ve had it work out and had a good relationship with the pharmacies.”

“I don’t know that we’re the biggest participating county, “ she said. “But I was thrilled with the amount of prescriptions that have been filled using the prescription card.”