Through the program, which was launched April 1, Cobb Chamber members can offer discount cards to their employees who do not already have prescription drug insurance. The cards will save employees up to 85 percent off on more than 10,000 FDA approved medications and can be used at more than 55,000 retail pharmacies nationwide, not just Walgreens.
"Our chamber has a very broad mission statement, and one component is to provide services back to our members," Chamber CEO David Connell said. "We're a member organization and our members expect a return on their investment. Because of the increase in cost of health care, a lot of our businesses unfortunately are dropping their health care services. Quite frankly one of the biggest concerns of businesses these days is health care."
Sharon Mason, chamber vice president of membership, said the prescription drug program is open to any of the chamber's more than 2,400 business members at no added cost. Chamber membership costs a Cobb business $400 per year.
While the program could save an employee up to 85 percent off prescription drugs, Mason explained that the average savings per prescription is 35 percent. It covers both generic and name brands, which is why there is a significant range in the amount of discount the program can provide.
"The reason why we are doing this is because we want to meet the needs of our members, especially with added health care costs that many of our members have," Mason said. "This gives them a great recruiting and employee retention tool because this is a benefit for them as employers and for their employees."
Mason said she has had great response so far from chamber members, and that many businesses are signing up now. She estimated that businesses would be up and running with the program within the next few weeks. There is no timeline to sign up for the program, Mason said, and as of right now she said the chamber plans to offer it to members indefinitely.
Connell said he believes there is a big need for programs like this especially in today's economic climate because so many people are under-employed and having to take on part-time or temporary work that does not offer benefits.
"This is just something that we're excited about because we know our members have been looking for something like this," Connell said. "As opposed to trying to buy health care for their employees, they're at least able to provide one of the components for health care and that is prescription drugs. And as we know prescription drug coverage is one of the most expensive components of health care. I think it's a win-win. It's kind of a simple, but powerful, concept."