WILMINGTON -- New Hanover County is helping ease the pain for people who pay for expensive prescription drugs. Starting Thursday any New Hanover County resident can pick up discount prescription drug cards to help shave off some of the price. Prescription drug costs can be a burden. New Hanover County officials hope this discount card can help. New Hanover County spokesperson Mark Boyer said, "This is a growing elderly population and it's a growing population in general. A lot of folks take one or two or three or more prescriptions a day." The prescription discount card is free, and anybody in the county can use it, regardless of age, work, or insurance coverage. Boyer said, "On average it's about 20 percent savings, which could be a pretty good saving especially if you're elderly or unemployed and need to take medications." Pharmacist Mark Kesler can't help but be a little skeptical. He says the discount is based on a contract price set by large retailers, and the pharmaceutical industry. "My biggest concern is that the consumer is a little bit misled into thinking that they're automatically going to save 20 percent and they're not going to do that." It's important to keep in mind that if your insurance company already covers a prescription drug you may need, you cannot use this card. When you can use it is when your insurance company doesn't cover a prescription you need or if you're uninsured. Carol Wulf says although she has insurance, the card sounds like a good idea. Wulf said, "It's a great idea and anything to save me some money i would use it." The offer claims up to 20 percent in savings, but Kesler says that may be a stretch. Kesler said, "Usually the markup in prescription business is not 20 percent or higher so up to 20 percent is going to be just kind of a top of the barrel number." The cards are intended for use by county residents, at establishments within the county. The county spokesperson does say there is not an address check when you pick up a card. You can pick up the free prescription discount cards at county government buildings and libraries -- they'll be accepted at most pharmacies. They cannot be used for most over the counter drugs or non-prescription medications.
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