The Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce is launching a new statewide prescription assistance program called the New Mexico Drug Card.

The program, created to help uninsured and underinsured residents of New Mexico, will provide discount drug cards at no cost that offer significant savings on many prescription drugs.

The program, already launched in more than 35 states, has no restrictions to membership, no income requirements, no age limitations, no cost to participate and there are no applications with personal information to fill out. New Mexico Drug Card, a product of United Networks of America, is accepted at more than 250 pharmacy locations in New Mexico and more than 50,000 across the country.

While the national debate on health care reform continues to try to solve the problem "at the edges" rather than truly reform the health care delivery system, the Chamber saw an opportunity to make health care a little more accessible and a lot more affordable — especially for the uninsured – without reform. We recognize that it is a small step toward solving a big problem, but it is a step in the right direction.

If we can make health care more accessible and more affordable even while the national debate rages on, we believe that is a good contribution to our state's well-being. Gov. Bill Richardson does too. That is why he has endorsed the New Mexico Drug Card.

Over the next few months, we will announce more projects designed to put business in the driver's seat which we hope – over time – will create a marketplace that drives health care costs down and accessibility up.

A few more specifics about the New Mexico Drug Card:

  • It is being launched to help the uninsured and underinsured citizens of New Mexico afford their prescription medications. The number of New Mexicans without health insurance has increased to 450,000, or 23 percent of the state's population.
  • The Chamber will receive a small fee from United Networks of America, which will be used to help us market the card to reach this population.
  • The program will also benefit our small-business community, many of whom have been forced out of buying insurance because it is too expensive, or those who have had to lower costs by choosing high-deductible plans for their employees with no prescription drug coverage.
  • The benefits of this program are evident in the other states where similar cards have been launched.
  • For example, a Colorado man credits the Colorado Drug Card (after he lost his job and couldn't afford his daily heart medication) for making it possible to purchase heart medication that he otherwise would not be able to afford. Once he received his discount card, he was able to save 70 percent on his medication and return to taking his prescription on a regularly scheduled basis.
  • It's also good for retail pharmacies.

Unlike other discount cards, this card sends customers into the pharmacy to get their prescriptions filled, rather than sending customers to foreign markets via mail order and the internet.

Any pharmacy can enroll in this program with no set up fees; they simply agree to give a discount to the patients that carry the New Mexico Drug Card as they already do for other pharmacy discount prescription drug programs.

We encourage all New Mexicans to download and print cards for themselves, their families and their friends by going to www.NewMexicoDrugCard.com. This very transparent website can help you comparison shop all prescription medication pricing and can help you start saving today.