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April 23, 2008

United Way Helps Bring Discounts on Prescription Drugs

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"Too many American families have insufficient or no prescription drug coverage at all," said Jennifer Heath, Vice President for Community Impact at United Way of Greater New Haven.

"Healthcare costs are one of the top concerns for people in our community and the FamilyWize discount prescription drug cards will help families who otherwise could not afford to buy the medicine they need.

Prescription drugs are vital to preventing and treating illness and help to avoid more costly medical problems. New Haven suffers from a high rate of poverty and an unemployment rate of 10.6%. There is a high immigrant population in New Haven and there are many uninsured individuals. Recent economic indicators reveal:

  • A 14.9% uninsured rate in New Haven compared to 6.4% in the state of Connecticut
  • 27.2% poverty rate, higher than the State of Connecticut and the U.S.
  • The median income in New Haven is $32,574, lower than the income of Bridgeport and the state of Connecticut on average.
  • In 2005, 9% of adults 18 years of age or over reported that they did not purchase needed prescriptions due to cost.
  • In 2005, 1.9 million people did not get needed prescriptions and 15 million did not get needed medical care due to cost (Health US, 2007).

Spending in the United States for prescription drugs was $ 200.7 billion in 2005, almost 5 times more than the $ 40.3 billion spent in 1990 (Kaiser Family Foundation, 2007). Prescription drug coverage has been one of the fastest growing components of health care spending, increasing in 2003 at double digit rates compared to single digit rates for hospital and physician services. Consider the following:

  • From 1994 to 2005, the number of prescriptions purchased increased 71% (from 2.1 billion to 3.6 billion).
  • The average number of retail prescriptions per capita increased from 7.9% in 1994 to 12.4% in 2006.
  • The percentage of prescription drug expense was 59% (for those under age 65) and 92% for those 65 and older.
  • Prescription drug prices increased an average of 7.5% a year from 1994 to 2006 almost triple the average annual inflation rate of 2.6%.

The US Department of Health and Human Services expects the United States prescription drug spending to increase to $497.5 billion in 2016, up from $ 200.7 billion in 2005, a 148% increase in 11 years (Health US, 2007). The annual increase is expected to rise from 5.8% in 2005 to 9.4% in 2016. Prescription drug spending as a percentage of overall health spending is projected to increase to 12% in 2016, up 2% from 2005 (Health US, 2007).

The FamilyWize discount prescription drug cards will help families get the prescriptions they need at a discounted price or the pharmacy’s retail price-which ever is lower. To get a list of pharmacies, or check discounted drug prices visit www.familywize.org.

Please send a fax to (203) 789-8167or call the United Way of Greater New Haven at (203) 772-2010 if you are interested in receiving a supply of these cards. You can also visit www.familywize.org for more information or to print additional cards.

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