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John McMillin: Prescription savings help at most basic levels

John McMillin • Updated Apr 24, 2018 at 7:00 PM

This column is usually focused on local issues and the work to help people we support at United Way of Wilson County and the Upper Cumberland. However, I want to throw some national information into the mix today just because I would like shed some light on a great partner I’ve mentioned in the past.

Our trusted partner, FamilyWize, offers a free prescription savings card and mobile app to nearly 1,000 of 1,200 United Ways and all 211 call service centers in the U.S. 

This has been a key resource used by many United Ways, including ours, to assist our communities in affording their medications so desperately needed. In 2017, for example, a significant impact was made with United Ways and FamilyWize working together to help more than 2.3 million people save more than $179 million in in buying prescriptive medications.

Consider that amount for a moment. Imagine the help this brings to an individual or a family. Savings means extra money for food, shelter, clothing…the basic necessities of life. Not to mention that some people regularly miss out on needed prescriptions because they have to make a choice of what absolutely has to be purchased.

“The barriers to people getting access to affordable prescription medication in the United States, unfortunately, continue to get higher,” said FamilyWize executive chairman and co-founder Dan Barnes. “The already high cost of prescription medications continues to rise, compounded by the increasing complexity and lack of transparency in health care. This results in many people paying even more out-of-pocket for their health care needs, including medicine.”

“[More than] 100 million underinsured and uninsured individuals are struggling against these difficult challenges,” Barnes said. “At the same time, people also have fewer places to turn in times of crisis as the safety net continues to shrink.”

Of course, FamilyWize and United Way cannot offer a solution that solves the combined problems in healthcare. “However,” Barnes said, “…we remain steadfast in the commitment we made 13 years ago to do everything possible to advocate for transparency and provide access to affordable prescription medications for every individual and family in every community.”

I know you probably have the same question I had initially. How could this possibly work? FamilyWize partners with nearly all pharmacies nationwide to negotiate prescription discounts, so an individual can receive a lower price. Their main goal is to help you. Most importantly, the card is for everyone nationwide.

We have FamilyWize cards at our office, but you can also get yours online. The process is very simple. Visit familywize.org and get your own card you can use through the app, mail or text and show it to your pharmacist. Also, the FamilyWize site has a drug price lookup tool, which is a tremendous time saver and allows you to see your negotiated amount for your medication at a participating pharmacy near you.

As a partner United Way, we’re pretty proud of this collaboration. No, it’s not a fix for every healthcare issue, but it is amazing and one, we hope, you’ll take advantage of in Wilson County as across the nation.

John McMillin is president of United Way of Wilson County and the Upper Cumberland. Email him at [email protected]

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