WILLMAR -- A new program starting Monday will give uninsured or underinsured Kandiyohi County residents discounts of 20 to 25 percent on prescription drug medications.
The savings are available by picking up a free prescription discount card at county offices where customer service is available, like the license bureau, public health and family services.
The cards will be accepted, and the discounts offered, at a national network of 60,000 pharmacies including 12 pharmacies in Kandiyohi County.
Besides the financial savings to individuals who use the cards, there is no cost to participants or county taxpayers.
The discount cards, which are not linked to an insurance program, are sponsored by Kandiyohi County and the National Association of Counties.
Having access to the program is a benefit of the county being a member of the National Association of Counties, said Jay Kieft, director of Kandiyohi County Family Services.
The cards will provide significant savings for people who have no health insurance.
But the card can also be used by people who have insurance but need prescriptions that are not covered by their health plan.
There are no income requirements, no enrollment fees, no forms to fill out, no age requirements and no medical condition restrictions to use the card, according to the National Association of Counties Web site.
There is also unlimited use by individuals and families.
To obtain the savings, the user simply presents the card to the pharmacist when placing an order.
The possibility of saving up to 25 percent to purchase medications is "outstanding," Kieft said.
The average savings are 22 percent, according to the association.
The discounts could make it easier for people who "were making choices of buying food or buying medications," Kandiyohi County Commissioner Harlan Madsen said.
Madsen had heard about the program from county commissioners in other states and suggested that Kandiyohi County also work with the association and offer the discount cards here.
"If we can reach one person, reach one family and keep someone out of a disastrous life-threatening situation," said Madsen, "it's worth it."
The discounts are made available through CVS Caremark, which negotiates the discounts directly with participating pharmacies. Neither the county nor the National Association of Counties receives any revenue from the program.
According to the National Association of Counties, pharmacies may price certain medications lower than the discount rate available with the card. If that happens, consumers will receive the lower price.
Kieft said he intends to track the usage of the discount cards to see how much money residents have saved through the free program.
While making a trial run of the program recently, Kieft said the toll-free information line that's printed on the card was easy to use and the operator was helpful.
For more information about the discount card, or to find participating pharmacies, go to: www.caremark.com/naco