GoodRx has been focused on helping Americans for more than 6 years. This month, as hurricanes hit Florida and Texas, we realized that our mission to help goes beyond healthcare, and we wanted to do our part to help.
A few days after Hurricane Harvey, we sent members of the GoodRx team to Houston to help relief efforts. GoodRx employees spent the night NRG Stadium, a massive shelter in Houston. The following day, our team visited local shops and markets in affected areas, paying for food and prescriptions for local Houston residents. You can read more on how #GoodRxHelps Houston here and here.
Just one week later, Hurricane Irma hit the Caribbean and Florida. GoodRx pledged to make a significant donation to help those affected by Hurricane Irma, but we asked for your help. We asked visitors to GoodRx.com which charities they though most deserved assistance, and we received hundreds of responses.
GoodRx is sending $5,000 donations to 3 charities that were selected by you. To learn more about these charities or make your own donation, see below:
ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals). The ASPCA transported sheltered animals out of Irma’s path before the storm, and are now working hard to find and help abandoned and injured animals in the aftermath. They are also continuing efforts in Texas post-Harvey.
ShelterBox USA. ShelterBox provides everything from supplies like water and blankets to tents and more—that can help make cramped shelter quarters bearable, and help people who’ve been displaced by disasters. They are on the ground in the Caribbean, and still working in Texas.
MedShare. MedShare is coordinating with local medical organizations in Florida and the Caribbean to get medical supplies and equipment to those in need after the storm. They are also continuing efforts and coordination with charities in Texas.
With millions still without power in Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas, an enormous amount of rebuilding ahead for Texas and the islands in the Caribbean—and now, the potential for more trouble from Hurricane Maria—there’s still so much to do. We want to thank you for helping us continue to make a difference. We’ll continue to do everything we can to help Americans in any capacity we can.
After Hurricane Harvey passed through Houston, TX, we came up with a plan to help. GoodRx would go to Houston, volunteer at a shelter, and pay 100% of the cost of prescriptions and basic necessities for as many people in need as we could reach.
Diana, one of the GoodRx employees who went to help in Houston, wrote an amazing account of the time spent in Texas. You can also read (and find more pictures of Team GoodRx in action) on her blog here.
Wednesday, August 30:
It’s the afternoon of Wednesday, August 30 and Doug, GoodRx’s co-founder, approaches me with an idea: how would I like to organize a trip to Houston so that GoodRx could help with Hurricane Harvey relief efforts over the long weekend?
“Yes,” I reply, not knowing what it is I have just agreed to do.
Thursday, August 31 – Saturday, September 2:
Over the course of 3 days, I quickly plug into my network of family, friends and possible contacts in the Houston area. I pour over updates online to find out what I can about local infrastructure—is it safe for us to fly in? are businesses open? will we be able to get around once we land? can we find a place to stay?—and ask for introductions to anyone who can link me to people and organizations that the GoodRx team can assist without causing harm or getting in the way of trained professionals.
Business school friends and classmates who I haven’t spoken to in years respond to my request immediately. They are the first to direct me to local resources and share their contacts with me. I am both amazed and not surprised at how quickly these people are offering their help and contacts. This is the epitome of the pay it forward spirit that I experienced at school.
Leads begin to pour in and I learn about the major shelters that are set up (GRB and NRG) and what their volunteer needs are. At the same time, I’m texting friends of friends who are nurses to find out how patients with prescriptions are getting their medicine. I’m calling pharmacists and grocery stores to see if their pharmacies have reopened. I’m reading as much as possible to find out which hard-hit areas we’ll be able to reach and offer our help.
All these inputs are confirming what I suspected: that I can create a basic plan for Team GoodRx but the specifics will come to fruition only after we arrive in Houston. Even then, I’m counting on my colleagues to remain flexible since there’s no telling what type of response we’ll encounter when we offer to pay for people’s prescriptions, groceries and basic necessities.
Sunday, September 3:
6:00AM: Depart Los Angeles with a quick layover in Phoenix.
1:47PM: Arrive at in Houston.
2:30PM: Pick up keys from my friend Maria’s apartment. She’s out of town for the weekend and has graciously offered her place for us to stay while we’re in town to help with relief efforts.
3:30PM: Arrive at NRG shelter. We check into the volunteer area and await our work assignments. My colleagues and I have signed up for the evening shift, 4:00PM to 12:00AM.
4:00PM: My colleagues and I are assigned to work at the shelter’s department store. This area is where shelter guests (those who have been evacuated) can pick up donated clothes, toiletries and other goods to use during their stay. Guests are also given a sleeping cot and/or inflatable bed with pillows and blankets.
8:00PM: Dinner break. In the back of my mind, I’m still formulating plans for tomorrow so I take this opportunity to chat with local volunteers. I ask them the same questions I asked my friends when I started planning this trip a few days ago. What I didn’t expect to see was the delight that came from Houstonians after we told them Team GoodRx flew in from Los Angeles with the sole purpose to help hurricane relief efforts. Soon word got around and other volunteers approach us throughout the night to thank us for coming out to help.
After dinner, I’m curious to see the rest of the shelter so I take the long way back to my post.
Here’s what I see in the main large hall:
- Three separate sections for single women, families, single men, and pets to call home during their stay at the shelter
- A large dining hall for guests
- A computer lab (two long tables with laptops set up)
- A barber shop/beauty salon where guests can get their hair cut and styled
- Various government agencies and social services have set up tables to help guests get back on their feet
- A Kids Korner where parents can drop off their kids for two hours a day
Outside of the main hall are:
- A medical area staffed with doctors and nurses
- A pop-up pharmacy where patients can receive medication for free
- A prayer/spirituality room
- Police and military spread around to keep the place safe
At this point, guests are settling in for the night so I make my way back to the department store. There’s still much sorting and organizing to be done to make way for more donations and the next day’s flow of guest traffic.
Near midnight, we learn that only eight of the fifty volunteers who signed up for the late-night shift (12:00AM to 7:00AM) showed up. Shelter staff are asking people to stay longer if at all possible. Since we’re there to help, my colleagues and I agree to stay until 5:00AM, when the city’s curfew is lifted.
5:00AM: Shift is finished and we are exhausted! We request an Uber and head back to my friend’s place to get some rest. All Uber rides leaving the shelter are free.
6:00AM: I finally get into bed and fall asleep the second my head hits the pillow.
Monday, September 4:
9:30AM: Wake up and review the rough game plan for the day.
10:00AM: Meet another friend at the Breakfast Klub, a local spot known for their chicken and waffles. Jon lives in Houston and has been so helpful from the start. He even put together a list of local shelters and resources when he learned GoodRx was heading Houston.
The Breakfast Klub looks busy. The restaurant is full and there’s a line forming out the door. As we step into the queue, we speak to an employee whose house got flooded. She’s grateful that she can get back to work and is delighted to learn about how we plan to help people that day. After breakfast and feeling sufficiently full, Team GoodRx heads out to Southwest Houston, a working-class area that was in the path of Hurricane Harvey.
11:30AM until sunset: It’s time to surprise and delight Southwest Houstonians. (Confession: This was the least organized part of my plan. Spoiler alert: Even so, I knew this would be my favorite part of the trip.)
After breakfast, we requested an Uber and set the destination to the first grocery store in Southwest Houston we could think of. My “plan” was to literally show up and ask the store if GoodRx could pay for people’s prescriptions and groceries.
The first store we arrived at had no electricity. Patrons were standing around the entrance outside while cars were lined up towards the exit. Since there was nothing we could do here, we hopped back into the Uber car and drove to another store nearby.
Kroger supermarket on Kirby Drive was the second stop for GoodRx. The store setup was ideal: the pharmacy was located adjacent to checkout lines at the front of the store. We could catch people moving through both areas!
To test the waters, we approached the pharmacy area first and spoke to Adrian, the Pharmacy Manager. I explained what we wanted to do there—step in and pay for people’s drugs and food with no other agenda. He caught on immediately and was receptive to our idea. In fact, he even knew a patient who had left the pharmacy empty handed earlier that morning because he could not afford to pay for his prescriptions. Excitedly, he called that patient and asked him to return to the store because he had a really nice surprise for him.
Once we saw how smooth things were going at the pharmacy—and how overjoyed the patients were by GoodRx’s random act of kindness—we moved over to the checkout lines. It was time to pay for people’s groceries! Adrian introduced us to Cecelia, the store manager, who then acquainted us with the cashiers who were excited to be part of GoodRxHelps in Houston.
We helped countless people pay for their groceries and prescriptions that day. The one that stood out to me the most was an elderly woman who relied on an oxygen tank. As she approached the cash register, a couple of the cashiers and I engaged her in a conversation. We saw that she placed lots of fresh food, produce and spices on the conveyer belt—this woman likely cooks well—so we jokingly asked her what time we should all come over for dinner. By this time, I had developed rapport with the cashiers and all it took was mutual eye contact to signal the transaction would happen.
After she punched in her Krogers Plus Card number, I stepped up and asked if GoodRx could help pay for her groceries. Obviously taken by surprised, it took a moment for this woman to take in what was happening around her. As she registered my question, she speechlessly nodded her head as her emotions washed over her. The cashier nearest her gave her a hug as GoodRx paid for her groceries. Then the woman came over and gave me a long warm hug as she whispered a heartfelt, “Thank you for your help.” Coming out of her embrace, I couldn’t help but tear up myself and notice nearby employees also wipe tears away from their eyes as well.
The rest of the day consisted of us trying to pay it forward at other grocery stores and pharmacies. Unfortunately, no other place received us as openly as this Kroger store on Kirby Drive. Some places we tried were closed while others turned us away. In the end, it doesn’t matter that Team GoodRx was turned away. From my perspective, we still achieved what we set out to achieve with GoodRxHelps: to help Americans in need.
GoodRx wants to help Americans in need. Last week, we deployed a team of employees to Houston to help locals clean up and get their prescriptions. Unfortunately, another hurricane is coming—this time to Florida—and we can’t just sit on the sidelines.
For every new download of the iOS or Android GoodRx mobile apps on Monday, September 11th, and Tuesday, September 12th, GoodRx will donate a $1 to charities that will be helping victims of Hurricane Irma.
Which charities should we help?
We want your help to decide which charities most deserve our money. We expect to raise thousands of dollars, and we’d like to give it to the charities that GoodRx customers feel are best. Please post your recommendations in the comments.
Download the GoodRx mobile app for iOS or Android now to help Irma victims.
Terms and conditions
Update: as of Friday, September 8, hurricane warnings and watches have been extended up Florida’s east and west coasts, with the storm expected to impact the Florida Keys starting early Sunday morning. Stay safe!
As Hurricane Irma heads towards Florida, it’s important to know that Florida passed a state law in 2006 that allows for early prescription refills in any county that is under a hurricane warning.
What does this law do?
Most insurance policies will not pay for prescription fills until a few days before your prior prescription is supposed to run out. For example, if you have a 30-day prescription and you filled it on March 1, most insurance policies will not let you refill that prescription until close to the end of March—perhaps the March 26th or 27th in our example. If you attempt to fill your prescription prior to that time, your insurance company will not cover it and you’ll be forced to pay a much higher price.
This Florida law mandates that insurance companies need to allow an early 30-day fill in any county where a hurricane warning has been declared. The goal of the law is to ensure that people do not run out of important prescriptions during and after a hurricane impacts the area.
How do I get an early refill?
If you have important meds and you have less than a 2 week supply, now’s the time to act. Call your local pharmacy and check with them to ensure that you’ll be able to fill your prescription. Keep in mind that you’ll need to have available refills on that prescription, and also note that controlled substances may have additional restrictions.
Other ways you can fill a prescription early
If a hurricane warning hasn’t yet been declared or if you’re having issues with your insurance at the pharmacy, you may want to consider using a GoodRx discount instead.
If your insurance won’t cover a prescription, you will be paying a MUCH higher price—often 10 times what your co-pay would be. GoodRx coupons can provide discounted prices that may be similar to your co-pay. With GoodRx there are no early refill restrictions. Please note that most pharmacies have their own restrictions regarding quantities and refills – you’ll want to check with the store.
My pharmacist hasn’t heard about this law—tell me more
Here’s the full text of the law, as well as a link to the official Florida legislature website where it is posted. We hope this helps.
Emergency-preparedness prescription medication refills.—All health insurers, managed care organizations, and other entities that are licensed by the Office of Insurance Regulation and provide prescription medication coverage as part of a policy or contract shall waive time restrictions on prescription medication refills, which include suspension of electronic “refill too soon” edits to pharmacies, to enable insureds or subscribers to refill prescriptions in advance, if there are authorized refills remaining, and shall authorize payment to pharmacies for at least a 30-day supply of any prescription medication, regardless of the date upon which the prescription had most recently been filled by a pharmacist, when the following conditions occur:
(1) The person seeking the prescription medication refill resides in a county that:
(a) Is under a hurricane warning issued by the National Weather Service;
(b) Is declared to be under a state of emergency in an executive order issued by the Governor; or
(c) Has activated its emergency operations center and its emergency management plan.
(2) The prescription medication refill is requested within 30 days after the origination date of the conditions stated in this section or until such conditions are terminated by the issuing authority or no longer exist. The time period for the waiver of prescription medication refills may be extended in 15- or 30-day increments by emergency orders issued by the Office of Insurance Regulation.
This section does not excuse or exempt an insured or subscriber from compliance with all other terms of the policy or contract providing prescription medication coverage. This section takes effect July 1, 2006.
Nobody ever said doing good deeds would be easy.
As we watched Hurricane Harvey bear down on Texas last week, we knew that GoodRx needed to do something to help. Houston is the fourth largest city in the USA and many people who live in the area struggle to afford their prescriptions—and that was before a major hurricane. We desperately wanted to help, even if we’re not experts on disaster assistance.
On Wednesday, we came up with a simple plan: GoodRx would go to Houston, volunteer at a shelter, and pay 100% of the cost of prescriptions and basic necessities for as many people in need as we could reach.
We immediately realized some of our biggest challenges. The airport was closed. Hotels were booked . . . or just closed. No rental cars were available and ground transportation is limited. Undeterred, we bought plane tickets to arrive in Houston on Sunday. We had a basic plan and would figure out the details upon arrival.
The night shift: volunteering at NRG Center shelter
After a very early flight from Los Angeles, we arrived in Houston and immediately headed for NRG Center, one of the largest shelters helping individuals and families in the Houston area. The shelter had recently received supplies and generous donations from all over the country.
NRG has welcomed thousands of people since Hurricane Harvey hit. This huge shelter has separate areas for single women, families, single men, and pets. Guests are fed and provided clothing, basic necessities and inflatable beds or cots to sleep in. Police and medical staff are also available to assist.
Team GoodRx volunteered in the “department store,” where clothing donations are distributed to shelter guests. Many of these people were evacuated because they were in the path of the hurricane or resulting floods.
We spent all of Sunday night working at the shelter. Over the course of the night, we met many wonderful people, including local volunteers who offered us rides, a place to sleep, and more after they learned we had flown into Houston to help.
When our shift ended at 5 am the next morning, we went to a friend’s house to get a brief rest before the next part of our relief efforts.
“GoodRx pays for your prescriptions and groceries”
A few hours later, we headed to southwest Houston, an area that had been hit pretty hard (as we learned the night before). We found many stores that were closed, had no power, or had very limited supplies.
A Kroger in southwest Houston was one of the few open stores. We approached Adrian, the pharmacist on duty, and asked if we could pay for people’s prescriptions that day. No strings attached. (It’s important to note that at no time did we use or promote GoodRx discounts; that’s not what this trip was about.)
Adrian was happy to have us help, and together, we began paying for people’s prescriptions. We literally just swiped our business and personal credit and debit cards to pay for as many people as possible. Adrian called patients who had left earlier because they could not afford their prescriptions and asked them to return because he had a “nice surprise” for them. We met a mother whose house had suffered significant roof damage, a father with a son in the ICU, a grandmother, and dozens of others.
All in all, we managed to help hundreds of people in just a short time in Houston. Everyone we met was so hopeful, appreciative of our efforts, and receptive. We were so humbled by the dedication of the volunteers and the positive spirit of the community.
Our trip to Houston was one way for us to give back. Now, we’re looking at other ways we can expand #GoodRxHelps to have a greater impact at the community level.
For more information on how you can help the Houston area, see our previous article.