County to offer own drug cards

  • Brian Kelly<br>For the Enterprise
  • Monday, March 3, 2008 6:40am

The Snohomish County Council unanimously approved a discount prescription drug program Wednesday, Jan. 19, taking steps to thwart the high cost of medications.

Once the pilot program is running, anyone who lives or works in the county will be eligible for the free discount cards. The program is expected to shave up to 35 percent off the cost of prescription drugs.

Council member Dave Gossett, the catalyst on the council for the program, said it will mostly help seniors and the uninsured.

“I think there is a very high probability that in the first year we will see somewhere between $500,000 and $1 million in savings,” Gossett said.

The discount card program is sponsored by the National Association of Counties. Gossett said he believes Snohomish is the first county in the state to join the program.

The program will help those who are unemployed or poor and don’t have the resources to afford health insurance that covers prescription drugs.

For seniors, it will help those who have retired but haven’t reached the age for Medicare coverage. And it will help those who have gaps in prescription drug coverage, such as people who are reimbursed for a 30-day drug supply only once every 90 days.

It also may help small businesses struggling to cover health insurance costs.

Once the program starts, Gossett said, he plans an extensive outreach effort to promote it. He will notify unemployment and family assistance offices, hospitals and medical clinics to see if they can help hand out cards.

The program won’t cost taxpayers anything. The costs of printing and mailing the discount cards are covered under the National Association of Counties program, and Snohomish County won’t wind up with record-keeping costs because the county isn’t required to compile reports on the program.

“I know there was some hesitancy at first, but … there’s a lot of people out there who want some help with prescription drugs,” Gossett said.

It’s not known when the first cards will be issued. The county has to approve a contract covering the program before cards can be distributed. That’s expected to happen sometime in February.

Brian Kelly is a reporter with The Herald in Everett.

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