OLDSMAR — The under-insured, the uninsured and their pets will soon get relief from the high cost of prescription drugs.
Beginning April 1, Oldsmar will issue free prescription drug discount cards to any resident of the city, regardless of age or income.
Present the card at Walmart, CVS and Walgreens pharmacies on Tampa Road and voila, instant savings.
"In the current economic climate," city spokeswoman Holly LiBaire said in a release, "this program can make it easier for citizens to afford the drugs they need to deal with a short-term illness or stay healthy by managing a chronic condition."
The National League of Cities started the discount card program in January 2009. In its first year, savings across the country totaled $1.4 million, according to the organization.
Now in its second year and available in about 400 cities, the program offers average savings of 24 percent off the retail price of commonly prescribed drugs, said Marc Shapiro, the league's director of enterprise programs.
The card is similar to one the National Association of Counties began offering in 2008 in Pinellas County, where an estimated 200,000 people are living without health insurance.
"We felt by offering a city card, a resident of Oldsmar (who) might not have been aware of the county program may walk to a city library and see the cards there. So it's just a way to reach out to more people," Shapiro said.
Like the county program:
• There are no enrollment forms and no limits on the number of times that individuals can use the card;
• The city cards cannot be used in conjunction with Medicaid, Medicare or any other insurance plan;
• And pets are covered if they need prescribed medications used to treat human conditions.
Locally, the league's program is already offered in Gulfport and Seminole.
In Oldsmar, residents can pick up cards from City Hall, the library and four other locations. In addition to the three local stores, more than 60,000 other participating locations will accept the cards.
People who lack insurance and pay the full price of prescription drugs won't need the card in 2014, Shapiro said. That's when states will create new health insurance exchanges as part of the Affordable Health Care for America Act, which President Barack Obama signed into law Tuesday.
However, that doesn't mean the league's program will become null and void, Shapiro said.
"A lot of health plans exclude lifestyle drugs: Viagra, hair care restoration, nutritional supplements and diet pills," he said. "People could still use the card and get a discount off the retail price."
Rodney Thrash can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 445-4167.