This nice family has no prescription drug coverage. You can tell this not only because they have rather grim smiles, but also because they can’t afford to update their 1970’s panelled kitchen. The photo is tinted in sepia, and it reminds us of the old black and white photos taken of poor Appalachian families during the depression. See?
But now this nice family has help. It’s called the Together Rx Access Card. According to the its website, “The Together Rx Access™ Card has been created to help qualified individuals and families without prescription drug coverage to save on brand-name prescription drugs and other prescription products, as well as save on a wide range of generic drugs.”
How do I know about the Together Rx Program? Well, today a drug rep came to my office asking me to give enrollment cards to my patients who had no prescription drug coverage, so that they could afford her medication. It sounded like a good idea, but being a skeptic, I decided to google the Together Rx Program.
HSS Secretary Tommy Thompson, the man who brought us the HIPAA Health Care Privacy Act, likes the Together RX Program. He even sent out a press release to announce his support for the Together Rx Program. Here’s what Tommy said: “This program will complement President Bush’s ongoing work to expand access to care for those who are uninsured or underinsured.
Web MD has an article about the Together Rx Program. Here’s what it says: “There is no cost to use the Together Rx Access™ card, which is accepted at many pharmacies nationwide and in Puerto Rico. Once you’ve enrolled, simply bring the card to your pharmacist along with your prescription, and receive your savings right at the pharmacy counter.”
Let’s enroll, shall we? The enrollment form is easy to use, just a single side of a paper with a place for your signature at the bottom. Hmm…That was easy. Okay, let’s print it out.
Oh, wait. There’s something on the back. I almost missed it, I was so excited to see such a short and easy form. On the back of the form, after the place for your signature on the bottom of the first side, is something called “Program Information” Here’s what it says:
So what companies are associated with the Program? According to the website, Together Rx is a joint effort of the following companies:
There is no information sharing opt out option on the application. I’ll say it again, in case you missed it, and because I think it’s important. There is no information sharing opt-out option on the application. So if Pfizer is the one discounting your meds, they can share information about you with Novartis, who can share that info with Ortho. Then they can all use that information to market drugs specifically to you based on the information they’ve shared with each other. Don’t want to share your information? Too bad, you’ll have to pay full price for your medications.
So, what is Together Rx? It’s a Drug Savings Program and a marketing solution, all rolled up into one. How else could pharmaceuticals sell medications to consumers who otherwise would not buy their products because they can’t afford them? Like any good retailer who has outpriced their market, they’ve lowered their prices. And in return, they are getting free market research, consumer-specific health profiling, AND your personal health information.
As Tommy says in his press release: Together Rx “is a great example of private sector leaders coming together with an innovative solution to a complex problem.”
Photo Credit: Walker Evans. “Bud Fields and His Family, Hale County, Alabama,” 1936–37. From the Encyclopedia Brittanica. Category: Second Opinions