While the national healthcare debate plays out in attack ads and Tea Party meetings, one local firm has partnered with the county to offer a lifeline to the uninsured, a prescription drug discount card that offers an average of 51 percent off the steep cash price of pharmaceuticals.
The card is available free at county offices, online at eldoradobestrx.com or by phone at (877) 684-0032.
There’s no catch. There are no restrictions, no fees and no waiting periods. Anyone can use the card at any time. Just trot it out at any local chain pharmacy, supermarket or Robinson’s.
“The uninsured are notoriously noncompliant about taking their medication,” said Kevin Nagle, the founder and CEO of Envision Pharmaceutical Services in El Dorado Hills. “It absolutely has to be cost effective.”
The uninsured typically have no idea what the prescription will cost until they get to the pharmacy, he added, explaining, “They wait in line … and must decide on the spot whether to pay it. If it’s too much money they just walk away. That’s not how it should work.
“So for us this is about helping a disenfranchised population, the people without insurance,” he continued.
The El Dorado Best Rx card is a good first step. It’s free to anyone, county resident or not. Importantly, the card isn’t insurance, said Nagle. “With our other businesses, we’re in a position to negotiate significant discounts with pharmacy networks and manufacturers, and we’re simply passing those along,” said Nagle. “This is a low-profit thing for us, but I believe it’s important.”
What’s also important for Envision is transaction volume, a key component in the discounts they negotiate.
But mainly, “We do it as part of our social and corporate responsibility,” said Nagle, who added that the card is also a solution for his clients’ part-time employees and family members without insurance.
Envision is a “pharmacy benefits manager,” an intermediary that works for large companies, government agencies, unions and other insurers, often as part of a larger branded insurance package.
Envision differentiates itself by passing on drug manufacturer discounts and rebates, and being open about the costs and fees involved, including their own — a transaction fee that hovers around $2.50.
In 2008 Envision jumped in to the Medicare Part D business in 49 states, becoming the youngest company to receive the Medicare contract.
The result is the fourth-largest private company in the Sacramento region based on revenue, according to the Sacramento Business Journal, which reported revenues of $1.2 billion in 2010, $1.6 billion in 2011 and a projected $2.5 billion in 2012, with a net income of 2 percent of revenue.
The El Dorado Best Rx Program is entirely funded by the pharmacy-paid $2.50 transaction fees, and doesn’t cost the county a cent.
Nagle frequently gets asked why the card is needed, since Wal-Mart and Target have $4 and $5 formularies that provide common drugs at loss-leader prices.
“We have statistics that demonstrate this program beats the pharmacy price, including the $4 and $5 formularies, 93 percent of the time,” he said. “The other 7 percent of the time you pay the lower formulary price.”
No personal information is required to obtain the card. Tear-off brochures featuring two ready-to-use cards are available at county offices including Health & Human Services, Public Health, senior centers, Veteran Services and the libraries, and can be created online at eldoradobestrx.com or by calling (877) 684-0032.
Envision provides web and phone access to discounted drug prices, so patients can make an informed decision on whether to fill a prescription.
“Tens of millions of people in this country have no prescription drug coverage,” said Nagle. “Hopefully this can help the unemployed and the working poor, the part time employees without insurance and those that have simply fallen through the cracks.”