FORT WAYNE — Allen County residents have saved more than $1 million on health care and prescriptions in the past five years using a discount program available through the county and the United Way of Allen County.
But, not nearly as many residents are signed up for the program as local officials would like, County Commissioner Therese Brown said Wednesday. They hope to significantly increase the number of people and companies participating in the free program during the coming year, she said.
Bill Brown, no relation to Therese Brown, was responsible for bringing the idea to the county about six years ago when he was an Allen County commissioner. Brown is now on the county council.
Brown said he had learned of the program through a meeting in Indianapolis.
“I knew the United Way was already doing it, so I took it to the commissioners and they ran with it,” Brown said.
The United Way began offering the program to Allen County residents in 2007, and the county joined the effort the following year.
The cards, administered by FamilyWize Community Service Partnership, have been used 61,000 times in Allen County since they were introduced, Therese Brown said.
To provide the program, the county partners with FamilyWize, the United Way and local pharmacies.
The program is primarily for people with no health insurance or prescription coverage but can also be used by the under-insured or those on Medicaid, Medicare or VA benefits who have not reached their deductibles, she said.
“No one is excluded,” Brown said.
Participants simply request a discount card.
“There is no application process,” Brown said.
Sixty-one local pharmacies participate in the program.
If a brand name or generic drug is available for less than the FamilyWize program price, the store consumer pays the lower of the two prices.
Bill Brown said he was proud of the way the program has taken off.
“This is what we need to do more of,” Brown said. “This was an ‘unknown known’ – an innovative idea that was working somewhere else.”
“The milestone of saving over $1 million is truly remarkable,” said Todd Stephenson, president and CEO of United Way of Allen County. “We look forward to continuing with this partnership and to forming new partnerships in the future.”
The discount cards are available to residents through any of the United Way’s 34 partners, through the food pantries of Associated Churches, the county commissioners’ office or from any Allen County trustee.
To obtain a card, call the United Way at 422-4776 or Mike Green, county spokesman, at 449-7671.