Mayor Emanuel, City Clerk Valencia Announce Chicago Rx Prescription Benefit Program to Save Residents Money
Chicago Drug Benefit is First Municipal Drug Program to Prohibit So-Called 'Gag Clause,' Allowing Consumers to Compare Prescription Costs
Mayor Rahm Emanuel and City Clerk Anna M. Valencia announced today that Coast2Coast Rx has been selected as the vendor to provide discounts on name brand and generic prescription drugs at no direct cost to the City or participating Chicago residents. Starting today, residents will be able to take advantage of the free benefit by using a discount card available at www.ChicagoRxCard.com, public library branches or many aldermanic offices. Additionally, CityKey cards that are issued going forward will include a discount number so that the CityKey can also be used as a resident's prescription benefit card.
“Access to affordable, quality health care services is a right to which every resident is entitled, and the City of Chicago is committed to doing all we can to help make prescription drugs and medical devices more affordable,” said Mayor Emanuel. “This new prescription benefit will not only save residents money, it will provide price transparency that will help them to make more informed decisions about their health care choices."
“The Chicago Rx Card creates access to the medications many Chicagoans desperately need regardless of age, income, health or immigration status,” said Clerk Valencia. “Even better, is that we continue to stay committed to meeting residents where they already are by bringing city services to them and allowing them to take advantage of this program whether that’s online, at a CityKey mobile printing site or at a local public library.”
The City prioritized finding a vendor that shared its commitment to consumer-friendly policies including price transparency and supporting residents in paying the lowest cost for health care services. The City, in partnership with Coast2Coast, unveiled a new website www.ChicagoRxCard.com that allows residents to locate participating pharmacies and search for the price of prescription drugs, medical equipment, and even medication for their pets. Residents will also be able to read more about the program and download a discount card if they don’t have the discount number printed on their CityKey.
“Too often we see individuals who are making impossible choices between rent or childcare and their medication. The Chicago Rx Card is an important tool in reducing barriers for residents to access their medications,” said CDPH Commissioner Julie Morita, M.D. “We know that the ability to purchase medications as prescribed by their physicians helps individuals get and stay healthy.”
Making prescription drugs affordable for residents of Chicago is the achievable goal for the Chicago Rx Card, a partnership between the City of Chicago, the Chicago Clerk’s Office and the Chicago Department of Public Health working in conjunction with Coast2Coast.
“The Coast2Coast Discount Program has a successful track record of partnering with units of government, across the country, to reduce the cost of prescription drugs and other healthcare services,” said Debby Karton, Coast2Coast’s Illinois Marketing Director. “Starting today, we look forward to bringing the same benefits to the residents of the City of Chicago.”
The Chicago Rx Card will be accepted at all major chain pharmacies in addition to many independent ones. Over 60,000 drugs are included as part of the program with savings of up to 80% on both name brand and generic prescriptions. One card can be used for dependents for an entire family and is good for pet prescriptions as well when they are filled at a pharmacy. There are no limits to the number of times the card can be used.
Pharmaceutical benefit managers often place contractual limitations on pharmacists that prevent them from disclosing if and when a customer’s prescription would cost less if purchased outside their insurer or pharmacy plan, as well as what the true price of a prescription would be without these benefits. These provisions, often referred to as "gag clauses," also limit pharmacists from providing consumers with information about the cheapest way to pay for their prescriptions. This deceptive practice often causes consumers to pay more than is necessary for prescriptions, which is why Mayor Emanuel announced the City of Chicago would end this practice in May; Chicago's discount prescription drug program is the first municipal prescription benefit program to be free of a gag clause.
Mayor Emanuel has a long-standing record of fighting for affordable health care services and regulating the skyrocketing prices of prescription medications. As a Congressman, he authored bills that would have permitted importation of prescription drugs and would have required the public disclosure of average manufacturer prices and best prices for prescription drugs.
In similar programs in New York City, during the first year of the program, more than 56,500 residents saved a total of $6 million on prescription medications.
The Chicago Rx Card is not insurance and is not intended to replace insurance.