Prescription drug cards help people without insurance

Published 9:40 am Monday, February 14, 2011

Cathy Petersen of Blue Earth has no insurance.

She is partially retired, working a little in the summer repairing bikes and helping care for her 86-year-old mother in Albert Lea.

Because her income is limited, the extra $85 in her pocket each month that she saves on her prescription medications is a huge deal.

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“That helps on the heat bill, light bill, groceries — you can buy a lot of groceries for hotdishes with $85,” she said.

Petersen began saving on her prescriptions two months ago when she picked up a FamilyWize prescription drug discount card at the United Way of Freeborn County office in Albert Lea.

The FamilyWize card enables people who do not have insurance to receive immediate discounts on prescription drugs. It can also offer savings during deductible periods and for prescription medicine not covered by health insurance, Medicare, Medicaid and other benefit plans.

According to United Way Executive Director Ann Austin, the FamilyWize card has saved Freeborn County residents more than $4,000 with 258 claims since May 2010.

“This equates to approximately $15 for each claim, but we would definitely love to see the numbers increase,” Austin said. “The cards are for people who don’t have insurance or who have medications which aren’t covered by insurance — so anyone could use them to see if they’ll work.”

The program is free, no enrollment or personal information is needed, and there are no age or income restrictions. Discounts are available immediately and there is no limit to how often the cards can be used.

Petersen first heard about the program a year ago, but at that time she was only on one medication.

“Now, I’m taking three pills, and it got a little expensive,” she said.

The program has taken the amount she spends on prescriptions from $130 each month to $44 a month.

FamilyWize cards can be used for all FDA-approved medications, including name brands and generics.

About 95 percent of pharmacies nationwide are currently participating in the program. Local pharmacies participating include the Albert Lea Medical Center, Curt’s Pharmacy, Hy-Vee Pharmacy, Shopko, Sterling Drug, Walgreens and Walmart.

Austin said the FamilyWize prescription drug cards and card holders are available at the United Way of Freeborn County office located at 341 S. Broadway Ave., Albert Lea. The cards can also be downloaded from the United Way website at

The FamilyWize Community Service Partnership was established in 2005. Its goal is to reduce the cost of medicine for children, families and individuals by $1 billion by 2020.