Free drug cards offer discounts in Santa Clara Co.


Clive Fuller is a pharmacist in San Jose at Bascom Pharmacy. He has seen the costs of prescription medicine go up at the same time more people are losing their jobs and health insurance.

"The prices are prohibitive and for a lot of patients, I think it's affecting their health," says Fuller.

That is why Santa Clara County is joining a program to help reduce the costs of prescription drugs. A discount card promises to cut the average retail price of a prescription by 22 percent; even people with insurance can benefit if they have prescriptions not covered under their plan.

"The cards are free, they can be used by all county residents, never mind age, income, existing health coverage, and they're accepted at more than 200 county pharmacies," says Santa Clara Supervisor Liz Kniss.

The prescription discount cards are easy to get -- there's no enrollment form and no membership fee.

The cards are part of a nationwide program sponsored by the National Association of Counties. Pharmaceutical companies essentially cover the cost of the discount as a way to secure large contracts. The county and taxpayers don't pay anything and in fact are expected to save money. The discount could entice more people to keep up with preventive medicine, thus avoiding emergency room care.

"We're very excited to help roll this out and it's going to be extremely popular and I'm sure the county is going to be healthier and will actually save money," says Howard Sutkin, M.D., from the Santa Clara County Medical Association.

Janey Martinez picked up a discount card at Bascom Pharmacy and while her prescriptions today were covered, it could save her money in the future.

"Because there are some prescriptions that Medi-Cal doesn't pay for no more, so it will be a good discount," says Martinez.

The card can also be used for prescriptions for your pets.

Marin, Sonoma, and Napa counties also offer the Caremark cards.

To learn more about the free discount prescription card, including participating counties and pharmacies visit the Caremark website.

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