Middlesex United Way: FamilyWize a boon to the uninsured

Over the past decade, 8,160 local individuals have saved over $1 million prescription medications through Middlesex United Way’s partnership with FamilyWize.

The program is free and has saved participants an average of 45 percent off their prescription medications. FamilyWize essentially acts like a huge consumer group buying service for the uninsured and underinsured. The discounts and savings on medications are provided voluntarily by more than 60,000 participating pharmacies that have agreed to provide prices similar to what they give large insurance companies and employers.

The card is like a reusable prescription coupon on all FDA-approved medicines, and you can use it immediately. The FamilyWize card has no eligibility requirements and is available to anyone. There are no forms to fill out, waiting period or registration.

If you have prescription drug coverage, this program can be used to obtain savings on prescription drugs that may be excluded by your insurance plan or are not covered because you have exceeded your insurance plan’s maximum limits. In some instances, you might find that the FamilyWize Prescription Card’s price is actually lower than your program’s co-payment amount.

In addition, if your insurance plan does not offer you a drug card, and you are reimbursed after each transaction, you may be able to use the FamilyWize to lower your out-of-pocket expenses.

The FamilyWize Community Service Partnership was established in 2005 by Dan and Susan Barnes to reduce the cost of prescriptions for people who live and work in Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania. Distribution of these cards was later coordinated by their local United Way.

United Ways in other communities quickly heard about the program and started asking if they could get cards for their communities.

FamilyWize partners with some of the most respected community groups and health care providers in the country, including United Way Worldwide, National Council for Behavioral Health, Mental Health America, and American Heart Association, among thousands of other community organizations.

Since 2005, FamilyWize has helped almost 13 million Americans live healthier lives by saving them more than $1.5 billion on life-saving prescription drugs. By aggregating large groups of patients, FamilyWize advocates and negotiates for deep discounts on prescription drugs which it then passes these discounts on in full to patients.

When people can afford their prescriptions, they end up saving money on more expensive items like emergency room visits and hospitalizations.

Here locally, FamilyWize is accepted by major pharmacies including CVS, Rite Aid, Walgreens and Walmart, as well as many local retailers.

To sign up for the program, visit familywize.org, download the Android or Apple app or print out the card. We also have them at our office if you’d like to stop in.

Kevin Wilhelm is president and CEO of the Middletown-based Middlesex United Way.