Monroe lagging behind neighbor Newtown on prescription savings

WEB-Health-CardFree! Savings! Do not Discard! If those words didn’t trigger your junk mail reflex, you might be saving some cash on prescriptions.

Since the town of Monroe Prescription Discount Card went out in the mail, it’s saved Monroe residents some $5,862 from August through December on prescriptions that aren’t covered by insurance.

“You can even use it for dog and cat prescriptions,” said First Selectman Steve Vavrek.

Residents with or without insurance may use the card. Some 192 prescription claims were processed in that period with an average discount of 31%, according to Gina Calabro, director of member services and marketing at the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities.

While Monroe launched the program in August, it’s lagging behind Newtown, which launched in March and has saved $70,000, with more than 652 residents participating.

Calabro guessed people in large part think the card is junk mail, or a scam. However, cards are available at Monroe Town Hall.

The CCM, to which Monroe belongs, has facilitated the use of the discount program, run through the company ProAct, in many towns in Connecticut. The program is also endorsed in New York by the New York State Association of Counties.

Calabro pitched the card to Town Council in the summer and asked for the town’s endorsement and for use of the town name and seal.

Council approved it after a number of questions.

Then Town Council Chairman Enid Lipeles admitted she was skeptical, but she was won over when she saw results.

“A free drug program that would reduce the costs to Monroe townspeople who wanted to take advantage of it. What was the catch?” she wrote in a letter to the editor in October.

ProAct, the company running the program, negotiates rates not just for this discount card but for insurance companies as well. The program doesn’t cost the town money because the pharmacies that take the discount cards sell prescriptions at a lower margin, Calabro said.

The card can be used by people with or without insurance on items that aren’t covered by insurance. It’s particularly useful for seniors who are in the Medicare “doughnut hole,” she said.

In addition to prescriptions, the card offers discounts on medical services, including vision, hearing and Lasik eye surgery.

The cards can’t be used to track residents’ purchases, Calabro said. There is no sign-up required, and the numbers are not associated with specific individuals she said.

Instead, each Monroe card number is prefixed with “TMR” so aggregate information about savings can be tracked. However, specific information about who is purchasing what medications is not tracked or accessible to CCM, ProAct or the town of Monroe, Calabro said.

 

Not too late

For residents who might have pitched the card, or didn’t receive one, it’s not too late to pick one up and possibly start saving money.

The cards are available at Monroe Town Hall, 7 Fan Hill Road. They can also be printed at proactrxsavings.com. While the website asks for a name and email address when printing a card online, those may be left blank and the card will still print.

That site also contains more information, including how to find participating pharmacies and look up drug prices.

The need

CCM said last year that over 10% of Connecticut residents — nearly 360,000 people — lack health insurance and prescription plans and another 800,000 residents are underinsured.

Since the program started in Connecticut, the discount card has reportedly saved more than $2 million in negotiated lower rates.

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