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Unexpected Costs and Rising Copays

FamilyWize helps Lawrence County residents face unexpected costs, rising co-pays


By Maria McIltrot, administrative assistant at United Way of Lawrence County, Pennsylvania


An older woman came into the office recently, asking about two FamilyWize cards she’d called about earlier. She was clearly on a mission. I was ready to hand her a bunch of cards, but she said, “No, I just need the two.”


She told me her bills have gone up quite a bit recently and like a lot of people in our community (we’ve had a lot of rain lately) her basement had flooded. It was an added expense she hadn’t planned on. She was excited to get the cards because her medication had also gone up and her Medicare supplement wasn’t fully covering the cost.


We have a large elderly population in our community so there are many people in similar situations as this woman. Lawrence County was thriving years ago—it’s an old steel mill community—but now many of the larger employers have moved out of the area. There has been a lot of revitalization happening lately, but the average household income levels are still low. The great thing about the FamilyWize card is it’s a supplement. People are surprised to hear that you can have insurance and still use the card if it saves you more money.


In fact, I’ve used the card myself, for my dad’s medication. He’s 93 years old, and his kidneys are not working well, so he has to take medication every day. He has high levels of potassium, which is dangerous. There’s only one medication for high potassium available, Veltassa, which is very expensive. Without insurance, the cost would be $900 a month. My dad has a Medicare supplement, so he pays $100 a month, but that still adds up.


One month I was able to use the FamilyWize card at a local Walgreens and when they rang it up, instead of being $100, the cost came up as $50.10. I was like, “Oh my God, are you serious? That’s amazing.” 


The FamilyWize program fits in so well with our United Way mission. We are very active in our community, and we want to respond to the needs of the community. This is a community where families go back generations and anything we can do to help people stay here, we want to do. I myself was born and raised here and my parents still live in the house my mother grew up in. We’re looking forward to a brighter future for our children and grandchildren and helping people save money on their medication is a part of that. If it helps them pay their bills, and stay in their homes, and stay healthy, that’s great. 

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