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Help with health care costs coming to county

The Association of Minnesota Counties (AMC) is reviewing countywide health discount programs that will save residents money on health care costs.

Douglas County Commissioner Paul C. Anderson said two discount cards are being compared. Currently, NACo/Caremark, through CVS Pharmacy, is being used in Douglas County, which relies heavily on mail order prescription filling. The new options offer savings averaging 20 percent more than Caremark's plan.

The two replacement plans are Pro Act and Coast2Coast. Pro Act reported savings between 40 to 45 percent in 2011; Coast2Coast, Anderson's preference, reported 55 percent in savings last year.

"The cards are free and in most cases cover the entire family," Anderson said.

Both programs mail cards to residents, however Coast2Coast would distribute cards to businesses and organizations such as pharmacies, social organizations and health centers that could have them on-hand.

Coast2Coast reported dental, vision, lab, diabetes and veterinary discounts along with a working relationship with pharmacies as part of its plan. Pro Act also offers vision and dental for an additional fee.

Douglas County would collect a royalty for participation in Coast2Coast. For every prescription filled, the county would be paid $1.25. AMC would also receive 40 cents per claim from Coast2Coast. Pro Act did not report royalty participation.

Caremark offered a similar arrangement, with $1 paid to the county per prescription but required a three-year commitment for the 40-cent AMC royalty payment to apply. Anderson said this is a new addition to the old plan.

Coast2Coast also handles administration, which means county workers would not incur additional workload.

Commissioners are awaiting AMC's preference, which could be announced at the May 22 commissioners meeting, and Public Health Department Director Sandy Tubbs' recommendation before taking any action.

Information Anderson presented at the commissioners meeting was provided by Coast2Coast during its presentation to the AMC board. Anderson is a member of the AMC board.

Tubbs will review Pro Act's program benefits before making a determination. Once a program is decided on, it will take approximately four weeks to implement.

"The sooner we get it going, the sooner our public starts saving money," Anderson said.

Follow #AlexMN @EchoPress reporter Crystal Dey on Twitter at @CrystalDey_Echo.

Crystal Dey

Crystal Dey is a staff reporter for the Echo Press. Originally from Minnesota’s Iron Range, Dey worked for newspapers in North Dakota, Florida and Connecticut before returning to her home state to join the Echo Press in October 2011. Dey studied Mass Communications at Minnesota State University Moorhead with an emphasis in Online Journalism. Follow Staff Reporter Crystal Dey on Twitter @Crystal_Dey.

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