Live in Clark County, save on prescription drugs

By Marissa Harshman, Columbian health reporter

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All Clark County residents are eligible to cut their prescription drug costs by an average of 24 percent.

Clark County joined a program through the National Association of Counties in November 2006. The county's participation made all of its residents eligible, regardless of age, income, existing health conditions or health coverage, said Marni Storey, Clark County Public Health deputy director.

So far this year, only about 1,000 people a month have taken advantage of the program to fill about 2,000 prescriptions each month.

"I think it's because they don't know about it," Storey said of the low enrollment. "Or they think it's for low-income or noninsured (people). Most people don't know that all county residents qualify."

Now, with financial help from the program, the county plans to increase its outreach efforts and enroll more residents.

Caremark, the company that administers the NACo program, is offering participating counties a $1 kickback on every prescription filled through the program by their residents.

Clark County Public Health is anticipating a check for about $18,000, Storey said. The county will use the money to promote the program by staffing information booths at community health fairs and other local events, printing more program fliers, and keeping the program website up-to-date, she said.

Discount cards are available at participating pharmacies, select county buildings and on the health department website, which also lists addresses for the other locations.

From November 2006 through December 2011, according to the county, residents filled nearly 213,000 prescriptions through the program for savings totaling more than $2.4 million.

The discounts even cover prescriptions for pets' medicines, if the drug is of a sort also used to treat people.

State program

Another free prescription discount card is available through the Washington Prescription Drug Program for all state residents.

It requires the cardholder to register at http://rx.wa.gov or 800-913-4146; the card will be sent by mail. Participants save, on average, up to 60 percent on generic drugs and 20 percent on brand-name medications.

"I think it's a great opportunity for folks to look into or ask their pharmacies about," Storey said. "Every dollar counts for a lot of us."