By Loretta Mottram, executive director of United Way of Whitley County, Indiana
The FamilyWize program used to be one of the best-kept secrets in Whitley County, Indiana. Not anymore. We’ve been aggressively promoting it since last fall. The biggest thing we would hear when we first started meeting with employees on the ground was, “but I already have health insurance.” A lot of people in our community have health savings accounts, which are becoming more common, and there were folks paying 100 percent out of pocket for some of their medications.
Now there’s been a mind shift in the community. They understand that as the whole landscape of health insurance changes—and more of the cost of medications falls to the individual—this is something to supplement what they already have.
Our blue-collar community has shown the most interest in the FamilyWize prescription discount program, but it’s certainly not limited to that. Struggling to afford prescription medications can affect the whole family. For instance, there is a large aging Baby Boomer population in our community. And one “aha moment” that’s come up when I’m talking to HR professionals is realizing how paying less for prescriptions can help alleviate some of the stress of caring for an aging parent. They see a lot of middle-aged employees missing work because they’re taking care of their aging parents. Saving on medication costs can help with some of that financial burden, and maybe even help them be able to afford the support they need to care for their parents.
We set up roundtable conversations regularly, just to talk about the program and explain how it really works. I always try to bring a volunteer with me, because they’re greater promoters of the program who can speak to how it’s impacted them. One of our volunteers shared that she uses FamilyWize for a prescription for her daughter who is going to college out of state. There’s another woman who was paying $300-$400 each month from her own pocket because her health insurance didn’t deem the prescription as necessary. With FamilyWize, she was able to navigate directly to the manufacturer’s medication discount program and now her medication costs her just $20 for a three-month supply.
While I promote the FamilyWize card at work through the United Way of Whitley County, Indiana, I also use the card personally, too. I have a son with special needs, and we’ve been buying a boatload of medication for a long time. I’ve been paying $286 out of pocket every month for years—a significant bite out our household budget. When I started using the FamilyWize card last July, I learned the prescriptions would cost me just $20 a month. It’s hard to describe the relief a family feels from that type of savings.
A lot of people might assume that a discount program doesn’t apply to them, but FamilyWize is great because it’s so flexible, and there aren’t any income limits. I’ve seen how this program hits home for people we call the ALICE population, or “asset limited, income constrained, employed.” They are slightly above the threshold for financial help programs like the ones United Way provides, but they don’t make enough money to afford all the medications they need. And how it fills the huge gap facing kids who don’t have Hoosier Healthwise, a healthcare program for children from low income households. That middle-ground population needs something like FamilyWize—and they’re really benefiting from it. I hope the program lasts forever.
Sign up to receive our monthly newsletter, offering the latest health & wellness news and savings tips, delivered right to your inbox.