We’re always amazed to hear from doctors and pharmacists who use GoodRx to help their patients save money — especially when it’s a matter of getting a medication or not at all. When we saw this tweet from Volunteers in Medicine (VIM), naturally, we reached out to learn more about their organization. We were able to speak with Patricia, Lead Medication Service Volunteer at the Cape May County free clinic, and Anne Marie, their Volunteer Coordinator, about the importance of savings programs like Patient Assistance Programs (PAPs) and GoodRx.
We use GoodRx to help our patients lower the cost of their meds. Of all the discount cards out there, we have found that the GoodRx card gives them the most stable pricing. Thank you @GoodRx for helping our patients every day. https://t.co/3WBcEQ4wZs https://t.co/3WBcEQ4wZs
Cape May County is a beautiful resort community — surrounded by long stretches of beach and bustling with tourists in the summer months. Since the county relies on seasonal tourism, many year-long residents, who make up only 18% of the total summer population of about 500,000, are unemployed during the wintertime. In fact, this past winter, Cape May County had the highest unemployment rate in New Jersey. Because of this, many people in Cape May County are low-income and uninsured.
Patricia, a retired Registered Nurse who’s been with VIM for 10 years, says none of their 500 active patients (between the two South Jersey clinics) have health insurance. As a Medication Service Volunteer, she works with doctors to decide which treatment is best for the patient. After a patient’s appointment, Patricia checks GoodRx (and other similar sites) to find the drug at the best price, then gives the patient a GoodRx card or faxes the GoodRx coupon to the patient’s pharmacy directly. She says GoodRx typically works best for expensive generics, adding, “Patients are extraordinarily grateful because they generally save a lot.”
For brand-name drugs, Patricia and the other Medication Service Volunteers always look for PAPs to help patients save money, but are careful to check when a drug’s patent is about to expire. She explains that once a patent expires, its PAP is soon discontinued and uninsured patients are left to pay the high cash price. An example of this is when generic atorvastatin (Lipitor) became available in 2011, but was still expensive in the years right after until the price gradually decreased.
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The clinic is currently trying to find a long-term solution for patients with severe allergies who need but cannot afford EpiPen (epinephrine) since it doesn’t have a PAP. A few patients are so allergic to shellfish that they can’t even go to the grocery store. Patricia says in these cases, VIM has actually purchased EpiPens and given it to patients — simply because they have no other way of getting them. This, by the way, is so incredible of them.
It all works because of the time and dedication involved. VIM is both a network and model for free health clinics operating in underserved communities just like Cape May County, making sure local residents have the healthcare they need. The Cape May County branch is funded entirely by their own community through donations, fundraisers, and grant money from the county, and almost everyone, from doctors and nurses to file clerks and translators, are volunteers.
Anne Marie, who started at the VIM thrift store and is now the clinic’s full-time Volunteer Coordinator, filled us in a bit more on the Cape May County location. The backbone of their clinic is a group of devoted nursing staff and support staff. Patients often make multiple visits a month for routine procedures, and only need to see a nurse for things like getting their blood sugar or blood pressure checked. Most of the Cape May County volunteers have been there since their doors opened 16 years ago.
In addition to primary care physicians, the clinic has several specialists on board, including a cardiologist, orthopedist, acupuncturist, massage therapist, and psychiatrist. They all generally live in the area or own a vacation home nearby. One doctor, Dr. Messori, commutes from his home 80 miles away in Philadelphia to see patients every Thursday. Just this week, he was awarded the Jack B. McConnell Award for Excellence in Volunteerism by the American Medical Association. (Dr. McConnell founded the very first VIM in 1994.)
Anne Marie says their doctors like being at the clinic because “they get to practice medicine the way they want to — things like how long to spend with patients and what treatments to prescribe. Everyone on the staff gets to know each of the patients well and it really does feel like we are neighbors caring for neighbors.”
GoodRx started with a simple idea: Help people find affordable medications. Help people understand their options. Help people get what they need for their health. Have a story about how GoodRx helped you? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or tell us on Facebook or Twitter – don’t forget to tag #GoodRxHelps!