County explores cost-saving idea for health care
There may soon be a different prescription discount card available for Douglas County residents who are uninsured or underinsured.
Karin Eckdahl, an account executive with TWRx, a pharmacy benefit management company owned and operated by Thrifty White, presented information to Douglas County commissioners at Tuesday's regular board meeting.
Eckdahl explained that the discount card is for all uninsured and underinsured residents in the county, at no cost to the residents and no cost to the county. There is a limit of one card per household, she added.
In addition, Eckdahl said that the program covers all medications, along with vision, LASIK eye surgery and hearing.
"This is a neat program for those residents who are falling between the cracks," Eckdahl told the commissioners. "It really is a neat program."
Commissioner Jerry Johnson mentioned that the county already has a discount card available that seems similar. The county currently uses a program offered by the National Association of Counties (NACO).
Eckdahl explained that the TWRx card is different in that it not only offers a discount on prescriptions, but also a discount is offered for vision, LASIK eye surgery and hearing. In addition, she said that her company sends out cards to all residents of the county - at no charge to the residents or the county.
Eckdahl said, however, that the county would have to check the policy with the NACO program because the TWRx card couldn't be used in conjunction with that program. It would be used on its own and the county would have to cancel its agreement with the NACO program, she said.
Commissioner Bev Bales asked why the card couldn't be used in addition to the other program, to which Eckdahl explained that it was because of the exclusiveness of each of the programs.
Johnson questioned how much the other program is used.
Douglas County Public Health Director Sandy Tubbs answered Johnson's question and said there are currently 45 residents of Douglas County who use the NACO program. Tubbs also noted the average savings per prescription is about $10.
The NACO discount cards, noted Eckdahl, are available and distributed at participating pharmacies. She reiterated that with the proposed new plan, TWRx sends out discount cards to all county residents.
"We send out the cards. I just want you to be aware of that," she said.
Commissioner Dan Olson asked about the coverage and the savings and how it compared with the NACO program.
Eckdahl said the savings would be higher with the TWRx plan. She explained that the average savings with the TWRx card is about 42 percent, whereas the discount with the other program, according to the NACO website, is about 23 percent.
Tubbs spoke up and said she is not sure about the contract between the county and NACO for the other program and said it would have to be looked into.
"I am not sure if we can just cancel out," Tubbs said.
Olson said, "I would like to see us [the county] get more information about this."
No action was taken on the proposed new plan. Instead, the consensus from the board is that Tubbs would work with Eckdahl and the county attorney to gather more information and look at whether or not the other program could be canceled.
Once the information is gathered, it will be brought back to the board for further discussion and possible action.
Any uninsured or underinsured resident of the county, regardless of age or income, can participate in the program.
No cost to the county and no cost to the participants.
Discount card can be used at any participating pharmacies in the area and nationwide.
Discount program covers all prescription medications, brand or generic. Prescriptions for pets included.
Participants save an average of 10 to 20 percent on brand name drugs and 20 to 70 percent on generic drugs.
Participants will receive discounts on eye exams, frames, lenses and contacts. The discounts range from 20 to 50 percent off the retail price.
Participants seeking to have laser vision correction procedures can receive up to 50 percent off the national average price.
Hearing products and services are now discountable using the discount card. The savings range from 35 to 65 percent on brand name hearing aids and products.