New Card Makes Prescription Drugs More Accessible

Fulton Mall Press Event Publicizes ‘BigAppleRx’

By Raanan Geberer

BROOKLYN — If you read some of the accounts of the debate over healthcare, you might think that health insurance is a cure-all.

However, there are many health plans that offer very limited prescription drug insurance. Furthermore, there are some drugs that are so expensive that they can cost as much as $70, $80 or $90 even with a co-payment.

Indeed, some of the most expensive drugs are among the most necessary, such as medications for diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma and high cholesterol — especially if your doctor prescribes drugs that aren’t generic. It is to meet these problems, as well as the drug needs of the uninsured, that the city’s big drug chains, in conjunction with an organization known as HealthTrans Access, have developed the BixAppleRx Card.

On Wednesday afternoon, Borough President Marty Markowitz as well as officials from the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, the city Health Department, Duane Reade and HealthTrans Access introduced the card to the Brooklyn community in front of the Duane Reade outlet at 552 Fulton St. on the Fulton Mall.

The card — which provides an average overall savings of 47 percent on prescription medications, 15 percent on over-the-counter drugs and 53 percent on generic drugs — is now available at over 700 distribution points throughout the city.

Some people might wonder why a large business, such as Duane Reade, CVS or Rite Aid, would honor a card that compels it to offer huge discounts. The reason, a HealthTrans Access representative explained, is that a high volume of store traffic may spur these same customers to make other purchases.

Markowitz, speaking in front of the store, said that many people who have no health insurance or inadequate insurance don’t take prescribed medications or take less of them than was prescribed, with dire results.

He added that even many people with insurance might use the BigAppleRx card for some medications because it could offer better discounts than their own insurance — although a person can’t use the card on top of his insurance discount or a similar discount card for the same product.

The press conference, interestingly, ended up with a local merchant from a nearby store, who said he has had a store on the Fulton Mall for 50 years, complaining about how the recession has hurt his business.

Markowitz told the 75-year-old man that he has no control over national economic policy, although he did suggest that the merchant spruce up his front window with more “in-your-face” signs to attract the younger generation.

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Filed under Community News, Downtown Brooklyn, Health

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