Prescription drugs can be a big cost for everyone, but a little red card may be able to help.
The Big Apple Rx prescription drug card is part of a citywide program to help people pay for their prescription medication, according borough representative for Big Apple Rx, Julian St Patrick Clayton.
The program, which was put into place in May 2011, is free to residents throughout the five boroughs and it is good for life.
The card can be used whether a person has insurance or not.
“There’s no fee for it and it is accepted at about 2,150 out of 2,300 pharmacies throughout the city,” Clayton said. “I know that it doesn’t cover super-expensive cancer or HIV medications that are new to the market, but it is good for just about everything else.”
According to Clayton, the program has saved New Yorkers $5 million since its May rollout.
Each card has an identification and group number on the back, which are identical to each other, in order to reassure people that they are in no way being tracked by the use of their card. “A lot of pharmacists know these numbers by heart,” Clayton said. “So, chances are, if you go into a pharmacy without insurance, they will punch it in and say, ‘Hey, I saved you some money.”
The card also allows consumers to price shop their medications before even going to the store.
“If you go to the website, BigAppleRx.com, there is a price tool,” Clayton said. “The tool will tell you how much the prescription is with the card at each different pharmacy, so you can know where it is the cheapest and just go there.”
Ubaldo Eguino, co-owner of Throggs Neck Pharmacy at 3569 E. Tremont Avenue, said his pharmacy accepts the card, however he does not get a lot of customers who use it.
“I think this is a card that is beneficial for people who do not have insurance,” Eguino said. “However, sometimes, depending where they go, prices will vary from pharmacy to pharmacy. For example, some of our prices happen to be better than the discounted price with use of the card, in many cases, in fact, ours are cheaper”
Eguino said although he feels using the card is better than nothing and having no insurance, he does not feel it is a tremendous benefit.
“I think that it prevents people that are crooks from being crooks and charging a large amount of money for prescriptions, in those cases than yes I think it is beneficial,” he said.
“Maybe it is also beneficial in chain drug stores, as chains are supposed to be cheaper, but even in those cases if you price out certain drugs we are quite usually cheaper than them, too.”
For more information visit www.BigAppleRx.com.