Card cuts prescription drug costs
Discounts, available to all Oahu residents, average around 20%
A free discount card is available to all Oahu residents in what city officials say is a new and innovative program to help fight the high cost of prescription drugs.
Every Oahu resident is eligible for the program, regardless of age, medical history, income or health coverage.
The program, sponsored by the National Association of Counties, saves patients an average of 20 percent on most prescription drugs, said NACo President Eric Coleman. There are no application forms or membership fees to join.
The cards can be picked up at the City Council's office, located on the second floor of Honolulu Hale, or at any satellite city hall. One card is valid for an entire family.
Residents can show their card at more than 100 local participating pharmacies, in addition to thousands more on the mainland, and receive a discount depending on the prescription. Honolulu is the first county in the state offering this program with hopes to expand it to the neighbor islands.
"These cards may be used by all residents," Mayor Mufi Hannemann said. "There's no cost to the Honolulu taxpayer and that's the bottom line for the program here."
The program is administered by Caremark Rx Inc., which negotiates prices with pharmacies and drug companies, meaning no revenue goes to the city or to the sponsoring association, said Coleman, who is based in Washington, D.C.
It is not an insurance plan and doesn't replace existing benefits, city officials emphasized. If a person already has insurance, he or she could use the card for prescription drugs that might not be covered under their plan.
The benefits, however, cannot be used with a person's insurance plan, meaning he or she cannot receive benefits from the NACo card and their insurance on the same prescription.
A discount is also available for pet prescriptions, Marshall added.
NACo, a national organization that represents county governments, including Honolulu, introduced the prescription discount program in 2004. Since then, more than 900 counties have joined the program with more than 59,000 participating pharmacies nationwide.
City Councilman Donovan Dela Cruz first tried to bring the program to Honolulu several years ago, Coleman said, but it was held up because of legal issues that had to be sorted out with city attorneys.
"It's unfortunate because we could have had it a couple of years ago and could have saved residents money," he said. "But I'm glad that it's available now."