A few weeks ago, I was wiped out with pneumonia.
My doctor put me on antibiotics, but after a few days, I still showed no improvement. She decided to up my dosage and extend my antibiotic prescription. She called it over to the pharmacy so it would be ready for me, and I dragged myself out of bed to go pick it up.
Except when I got there, the pharmacist informed me they had not filled it. When I asked why, he told me my insurance would not cover it.
“Well, how much is the cash price?” I asked.
He just blinked at me; most people don’t bother asking that question when their insurance denies a prescription. When I just stared back at him, he finally looked it up in the system.
“Ma’am, it will be very expensive. It’s $120,” he replied.
I almost fell over — partially from pneumonia, partially from the ridiculous cost of basic antibiotics. But I remembered an important prescription savings program that can drastically cut your costs.
“And how much with the FamilyWize discount?” I countered.
He returned to the computer, punched in a few keys, and turned back to me.
“That will be $12,” he said.
$12, down from $120 — just 10 percent of the original cost. If I hadn’t known about this program, I would have faced a decision too many people make every day: Pay a fortune for a prescription, or go without and be sick.
With the FamilyWize discount card, you can save hundreds on your annual medicine costs, helping you get the care you need. Here’s how it works.
The high cost of prescriptions
When money is tight, paying for prescriptions can be downright impossible.
In fact, 45 percent of people under the age of 65 who did not have insurance coverage for medicine said they skipped filling a prescription because of cost. 84 percent of working people said they cut back on food or skipped paying bills to get the medicine they needed.
Even if you have health insurance, the cost can be steep. Some drugs may not be covered under your policy, or, like in my case, because you recently had a similar prescription. You have to decide if you pay the cash price or go without necessary medicines.
And going without your medications can have dire consequences.
That came to light in 2011, when a 24-year-old man went to the emergency room due to a tooth infection. The doctors discharged him with prescriptions for antibiotics and pain medications.
Without insurance, he could only afford one, and in horrible pain, he opted for the pain medicine. He died days later from the infection, which had spread to his brain.
Affordable access to prescriptions is essential to your health and well-being. Though pharmacies won’t often tell you, there are free programs that can help you get the medicines you need a fraction of the cost. One of the biggest and most well-known is FamilyWize.
How to save money on prescriptions
Dan and Susan Barnes launched FamilyWize in 2005 in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley. Through partnerships with United Way, government agencies, and thousands of community organizations, FamilyWize has expanded nationwide, helping to make medicine more affordable for everyone.
FamilyWize negotiates directly with pharmacies to get the best prices, acting like a huge buyer. By working on behalf of people who have no insurance, have high prescriptions costs, or whose insurance will not cover their medicines, FamilyWize gets deals similar to that available to employers and insurance companies.
Once FamilyWize secures these discounts, they pass the savings on to the people using the discount program to get their medicines. On average, people who use the FamilyWize discount card save 43 percent, though you can save as much as 90 percent (like I did) on select medications.
Who is eligible for a FamilyWize card?
Absolutely anyone can use a FamilyWize discount card; there is no income limit. You can use it to save money on all drugs approved by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA). However, over-the-counter drugs like aspirin or allergy pills are not eligible.
The card can be used at major pharmacies nationwide, including Walgreen’s, CVS, or Rite Aid.
If you are insured, the FamilyWize discount cannot be combined with your insurance, but you can use the FamilyWize calculator to see if the discount price would be cheaper than your copay.
If your insurance does not cover your medicine, you can ask the pharmacist to pay the cash price and then use the FamilyWize discount card.
How do I get a FamilyWize discount card?
The card is completely free for everyone. You can print a card from the website, get one mailed to you, or download the FamilyWize app to your smartphone. You can use your card for all of your prescriptions.
Save on healthcare
Medications can be prohibitively expensive, but the FamilyWize program can help you save hundreds on your prescriptions.
If you need help managing your health expenses and getting affordable health insurance, check out this article on choosing a plan on Healthcare.gov.
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