press release
3/6/12 02:10PM

United Way Offering Free Prescription Discount Card to Help Families Save on Medicine

Up to 41 percent of adults around the nation say it’s a problem for their family to pay for prescription medications. The Familywize discount card, issued by United Way of Tampa Bay, can help save money, regardless if you have insurance or not. It is available free as a download you can print out.

Thousands of prescriptions go unfilled simply because they are too expensive to fill. But free FamilyWize prescription discount cards, provided by United Way of Tampa Bay, address this problem. The card can help individuals cut the cost of medicines by up to 35 percent.

“The cost of a prescription really shouldn’t be a factor, but, more and more, we’re finding that the high price of medicine means that people have to make a choice. They can either fill a prescription or put food on the table and keep a roof over their head,” said Emery Ivery, Senior Vice President at United Way.   A FamilyWize free prescription card saves an average of $20 per prescription. Those savings oftentimes mean the difference between taking a medicine or skipping it.”

Getting the card is as easy as going to and downloading the PDF containing the card.

United Way is part of a nationwide grassroots effort in conjunction with FamilyWize Community Service Partnership. The free cards are accepted at 95 percent of pharmacies nationwide, including all major chains. Using a card to save on prescriptions doesn’t require enrollment or personal information, so they’re ready to use the minute you receive one, according to Dan Barnes, co-chair of FamilyWize.

“This helps people who have no insurance the most, but it can also help people with insurance if it doesn’t cover their medicine,” said Barnes. “It’s easy, like using a coupon. Just take it to your local pharmacist, and they’ll know exactly what to do to automatically apply all the savings available to you.”

An estimated 16 percent of Americans didn’t fill at least one prescription in 2010, and another 13 percent reported taking expired drugs, skipping a dose (12 percent) or splitting pills without approval from their doctor or pharmacist (8 percent). The alarming statistics are from the 2010 Health Tracking Household Survey, which was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. In most cases, cost was the reason cited.

•    16 percent of Americans weren’t able to fill a prescription in 2010 because of cost. That number is estimated at 21 percent for 2011, according to a study by USA Today/Kaiser Family Foundation/Harvard School of Public Health.
•    Patients not taking medicine as prescribed cost the U.S. healthcare system roughly $290 billion/year in extra treatment and related costs.
•    Every dollar spent on medication decreases total health costs to patients, insurers and government health programs by about $10.10 for people with high blood pressure, $8.40 for congestive heart failure patients and $6.70 for those with diabetes.
•    There were more than 100 million Americans in 2011 who were uninsured for all or part of the year– about 35 percent of the population.
•    FamilyWize is free, does not require enrollment or personal information and is available to anyone. Discounts vary depending on the drug, but the program can save up to 75 percent. Average savings are 35%.

FamilyWize was the first organization to offer prescription discount cards for free to everyone, locally and nationwide, struggling with the high cost of medicine. Since its founding in 2005, the organization has worked with almost 1,000 local United Ways across the country to help more than 3.4 million people save over $300 million on their prescriptions.

A list of participating Tampa Bay pharmacies and discounts on specific drugs is available on the FamilyWize website,

United Way is a local not-for-profit organization working since 1924 to mobilize the resources of individuals, companies, government, and labor to achieve positive, lasting changes in the lives of people in the community.  Their mission is to inspire leaders and partners and mobilize resources to make a measurable difference in the lives of people in our community.  United Way views income, education and health as the basic building blocks of independence. By addressing all three of these issues through the human services programs it funds, United Way helps families become stronger and communities more vibrant.  

United Way’s vision is to build a strong, caring community. United Way of Tampa Bay helps people build better lives by helping kids graduate and helping families find paths out of poverty.  For more information visit on the web.


In the spring of 2005, Dan and Susan Barnes heard of families in the Lehigh Valley area who were having difficulty buying the medicine they needed because of the high cost of prescription drugs. They responded by distributing a free prescription discount drug card through family and health centers in the schools in Bethlehem. The family centers then involved the United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley who asked 25 of its partner agencies to help distribute the cards to individuals and families in need throughout the area. Almost immediately, Dan and Susan received requests from other United Ways to provide this free assistance in other communities. As a result, they established the FamilyWize Community Service Partnership in the fall of 2005 inviting a group of local and national companies to join together to provide this free assistance through United Ways to people in need across the county. Currently 1,000 participating United Ways and America’s Promise Alliance Partners in all 50 states coordinate the local distribution of the free FamilyWize prescription drug discount cards.

In February of 2012, the total savings from the use of FamilyWize prescription drug discount cards passed $300 million and a new goal was established to reach $1 billion in savings by the end of 2015. For more information, visit

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