NLC Prescription Discount Card Program Brings Big Savings to a Small City

by Marc Shapiro


The City of Clarksburg, W. Va. (population 16,743), like cities everywhere, is always looking for programs that can benefit the city and its residents. When the NLC Prescription Discount Card Program was announced at the 2008 Congress of Cities in Orlando, Fla., Clarksburg was among the first to jump on board.

Today, of the more than 460 cities participating in the program, Clarksburg leads the nation with savings to residents of more than $382,000 on the cost of prescriptions.

"The NLC Prescription Discount Card Program has been a great program for our residents," said James C. Hunt, Clarksburg councilmember and NLC past president. "Rarely do I attend a gathering without someone relating to me a story about how they or their family saved money with the program."

Designed to help residents who are without health insurance, a traditional pharmacy benefit plan or have prescriptions not covered by insurance, the program provides an average savings of 23 percent off the full retail cost of prescriptions. The program is administered for NLC by CVS Caremark and includes nearly 60,000 participating pharmacies nationwide, including all major chains and most local pharmacies. There is no cost to the resident, no enrollment fees or forms and the cards can be used by all family members. Even many pet medications are covered.

There is no cost for a city to participate in the program. However, a city must be a member of NLC. The role of the city is to promote the program through the local media and the city website and to make the prescription discount cards available at locations throughout the city to those residents who might benefit from the program. The city is provided with a quantity of customized prescription discount cards with the city name and logo at no cost, along with sample marketing materials.

"The City of Clarksburg was honored to be one of the first cities to participate in this great discount program and to provide tangible benefits to our residents," said Martin Howe, Clarksburg city manager. "When Jim Hunt, called to make me aware of the program we were more than anxious to get involved, but we wanted to make sure not only that we did it the right way, but we were successful."

The city informed many agencies and community groups about the benefits of the program prior to launching. A kick-off ceremony was held at City Hall and local media were invited to cover the event. In addition, all of the community agencies and groups attended the kick-off, which really showcased the support for the program.

Groups participating in the kick-off event included the local hospital, other health care providers, pharmacies (locally owned and national representatives), social agencies and most importantly the public, all of whom were provided with the City of Clarksburg Discount Cards and card holder. These agencies greatly assisted the city in promoting the program and providing the discount cards to their patrons.

The local news covered the kick-off and throughout the year ran various stories regarding the discount cards as the city would update the city's progress and usage of the card. The discount card, along with information pertaining to the card is also made available on the city's website.

Most recently, Clarksburg sent out approximately 7,000 mailers within its Fire Service Fee billing to residents to re-emphasize the program and to make sure anyone eligible to utilize the cards had one in their possession.

As the "leading" city, Hunt identified a few simple things any participating city can do to assist in making the NLC Prescription Discount Card Program a valuable asset to residents.

  • Regularly report the savings at council meetings and other group meetings.
  • Make the cards available at the welcome desk in the lobby of city hall.
  • Distribute cards at health clinics, community centers, public libraries, senior centers and other city facilities.
  • Hold "celebrations" as savings milestones in the program are achieved. This keeps the card in the forefront and reinforces for people who may have missed out on our initial roll out.
  • Provide information on the city website to promote the card and where residents can print a card.
"We continue to promote the cards and be sure to provide refills for discount card holders placed at the aforementioned locations," Hunt said. "Anytime we have the opportunity to promote the cards through our local media we continue to do this to keep our citizens updated as to the total savings realized for our citizens, but most importantly the savings they can realize immediately to their own budget at home."

Other cities in the top 10 nationwide in savings to residents include: Detroit; Ardmore, Okla.; Athens, Tenn.; Savannah, Ga.; Monroe, N.C.; Kernersville, N.C.; Memphis, Tenn.; West Hollywood, Calif.; and Camden, S.C.
Building on the success of the program nationwide, NLC President James E. Mitchell Jr., has set of goal of reaching $10 million in total savings to city residents by the end of this year.

"I encourage every NLC member city to participate and help us achieve that goal," Mitchell said. "The program has clear benefits and the potential to save money for the community well beyond the cost of a city's annual dues to NLC."

Cities launching the program last month include: Carrboro, N.C.; Emerald Isle, N.C.; Highland Hills, Ohio; and Mount Vernon, Texas. NLC member cities not participating in the program can sign up on the NLC website at www.nlc.org/prescriptioncard and join the effort to reach the goal of $10 million in savings to residents this year.

Details: Contact Marc Shapiro at (202) 626-3019 or shapiro@nlc.org.