GUEST COMMENTARY: United Way's FamilyWize program makes good sense
Are you an employer in Northwest Indiana seeing an uptick in employee absenteeism or turnover? Are you interested in improving productivity and profitability?
It’s possible your employees’ ability to afford prescription medication may be negatively affecting your company’s overall performance. It’s estimated that 80 million people in the U.S. — that’s one in four! — go without taking their medicine as prescribed due to the cost of medication. Employees make up the vast majority of those who skip their medication or don’t fill their prescriptions due to cost. Seventy-eight percent come from working families.
Thankfully, our local United Ways have teamed up with FamilyWize to provide immediate relief for employees who can’t afford prescriptions. When I learned about this program shortly after joining the Lake Area United Way board, I was not only excited about spreading the word to those I knew who might benefit from prescription drug discounts, I also immediately thought of the potential value to local companies.
The program can benefit employees who decline coverage because they can’t afford the premium, employees who work part-time or for minimum wage, even employees that have insurance but are not covered for prescriptions or have family members who aren’t.
And more health coverage won’t eliminate the problem: it’s estimated that 60 million people will still be uninsured or under-insured even after the Affordable Care Act.
Distributed through United Ways nationwide — including our local organizations in Lake, Porter and LaPorte counties—the FamilyWize card lowers the cost of medicine by an average of 40 percent or more for people without insurance or who take medications not covered by their plan.
That works out to an average savings of $20 per prescription. It’s easy to use. All you have to do is present a FamilyWize card at a local pharmacy to receive immediate prescriptions savings with no paperwork or forms to fill out. Businesses can acquire discount cards from their local United Way and distribute them to employees. Individuals can also print out a card from a link on the United Way websites or even text Health to 700-700 to download a card on a phone.
Since 2010, in Lake County alone, residents have saved more than $2 million on everyday prescription costs as a result of the partnership between United Way and FamilyWize. But there are still thousands of local families and individuals that may need help with prescription savings.
Spread the word. Make sure your employees are aware. Contact your local United Way and get more information. They’d be happy to help make sure your employees are taking advantage of this great opportunity. No one should be forced to choose between paying for food, rent or medicine because of the high cost of prescriptions.
This is a United Way program that makes good business sense, leading to a more healthy — and productive — Northwest Indiana.