Big Rx Companies Offer Big Savings to the Uninsured

Published March 1, 2005

More than 30 million uninsured Americans became eligible in February to receive savings of between 25 and 40 percent on 275 brand-name and generic prescription products through a private-sector discount program called Together Rx Access. Enrollment in the program opened January 11.

The program is designed to help the uninsured and persons who do not qualify for Medicare, Medicaid, or other government assistance. Enrollees receive a Together Rx Access Card they can show at the pharmacy counter to receive immediate savings when they purchase their prescriptions.

The National Association of Chain Drug Stores, whose membership consists of more than 200 chain community pharmacy companies, supports the program. “NACDS is pleased that Together Rx Access is preserving the relationship between uninsured patients and their trusted community pharmacist,” noted Catherine Polley, R.Ph., vice president of state government affairs for the association.

The program is a joint effort among pharmaceutical companies Abbott Laboratories, AstraZeneca, Aventis Pharmaceuticals, Bristol-Myers Squibb, GlaxoSmithKline, Janssen Pharmaceutical Products, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation, Ortho-McNeil Pharmaceutical, Inc., Pfizer Inc., Takeda Pharmaceuticals North America, Inc., and TAP Pharmaceutical Products Inc.

“We understand many Americans–particularly those without health insurance–are concerned about health care costs,” said Pat Kelly, president of Pfizer’s U.S. pharmaceuticals business. “We know the pharmaceutical industry alone can’t solve these problems, but we can be part of the solution by helping the uninsured have access to the medicines they need.”

Private-Sector Initiative

California Assemblyman Jerome E. Horton (D-Inglewood) commended the pharmaceutical companies for their vision.

“It is good to see 11 of the nation’s leading pharmaceutical companies come together to create a program that allows working families greater access to prescription medication,” Horton said in a February 15 news release.

The benefits of the Together Rx Access program extend to millions of Americans, including children, who are uninsured and don’t have prescription drug coverage. Approximately eight of 10 Americans without health insurance are in families that are actively employed, working at full-time or part-time jobs that do not offer health insurance.

The participating companies offer savings on brand-name prescription medicines that treat some of the most common medical conditions affecting Americans, including allergies, arthritis, asthma, cancer, depression, diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension.

Broad Eligibility, Additional Programs

“Improving access to quality health care is a complex series of challenges that will require the collaboration of the public and private sectors,” Horton noted. “I am pleased that these companies recognize the need and are committed to doing the extensive outreach necessary to reach the appropriate populations.” He made special mention of the fact that enrollment in the program is simple and enrollment materials are bilingual.

To qualify for Together Rx Access, an applicant must:

  • be a legal U.S. resident under age 65;
  • have an annual income not greater than $30,000 (single) and $60,000 (family of four); and
  • not be eligible for government assistance programs.

The companies that participate in Together Rx Access also offer their own Patient Assistance Programs (PAPs). Together Rx Access applicants are automatically notified if they are eligible for further savings–and in some cases free medicines–through the PAPs.

Conrad F. Meier ([email protected]) is senior fellow in health policy for The Heartland Institute and editor emeritus of Health Care News.

To Enroll …

Persons who believe they meet the Together Rx Access eligibility guidelines can apply for the Together Rx Access Card program free of charge by calling 1-800/444-4106 or by visiting Enrollment forms and additional information are also available through participating pharmacies and in physicians’ offices.