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Keeping Medication Costs Under Control

by Gaila Demel, executive director, United Way of Central Kansas


?      Galia Demel, executive director of United Way of Central Kansas, knows personally the savings a FamilyWize card can provide.

?      She has helped share the FamilyWize program throughout Central Kansas, a rural farming community where people have limited healthcare resources.

?      United Way of Central Kansas distributes FamilyWize cards via partnerships with local hospitals, juvenile services, women’s centers, and schools.


I was standing in line at the pharmacy the other day, and the woman in front of me was clearly flustered. The GoodRx card she had tried to use for one of her prescriptions didn’t cover the medication, and it seems she didn’t have enough to pay out-of-pocket for the full price. She left the line empty-handed and looking upset. I left the line, too—to chase her down and hand her a FamilyWize card.


I know firsthand how the FamilyWize discount prescription program can put medications back within reach for people who don’t have or can’t afford prescription coverage to keep their medication costs reasonable. I’m one of the many, many people in that gap: I’m not quite on Medicare, but I had to let my prescription medical coverage lapse in April because I needed to save on that expense each month. Now, with FamilyWize, I pay less for my handful of no-big-deal blood pressure medications than I did when I had to cover the cost of insurance premiums and pharmacy copays. I had to get a shingles vaccination recently; without insurance, a single injection would have cost me about $200. With the free FamilyWize card, I paid $50 total.


Here in Central Kansas, we’re seeing more people embrace the program, especially because we live in a really rural farming community, with limited healthcare resources. Back in the old days, if you were working, you could afford to have your work insurance cover you, and your spouse, and your kids. Now, that’s not always the case. Instead of being on the map for oil and gas, this area is now more farming jobs. And they’re not big employers who can offer a lot of subsidized benefits. I hear all the time about people paying the Affordable Care Act fine rather than pay for insurance—they just can’t afford to get covered. Sadly, I don’t think our story in central Kansas is all that unique. It’s one that’s playing out all across the heartland and other parts of rural America.


To get the word out that FamilyWize can help our community fill that financial gap and get the medications they need, we partner with hospitals, juvenile services, women’s centers, and schools. Once a quarter, I do a presentation at the correctional facility in Pawnee County, which has a nine-month release program called Going Home that helps reintegrate women back into the community. I tell them about the toll-free number that can connect them to the community resource center in their area, but I almost always get the most response about FamilyWize. Their ears perk up when I tell them how easy the discount program is to use, and I share my own story of using the card. Most of these women have family and kids, and they’re all worried about how they’re going to pay their bills. And I don’t just pass out individual cards—I give each person two or three cards, so they can use them and share them with family and friends. You can really feel the relief these women feel, that this program is out there.

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