Thank you to Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish and the Cuyahoga County Health and Human Services Department for continued funding of 2-1-1 and the MedRefer Program.
Despite the drop in the number of uninsured and improvements in the economy over the last two years, there are still many Cuyahoga County residents who cannot afford their prescription medications. At United Way 2-1-1’s MedRefer program we try to connect these community members with free or low cost medication programs every day. Based on income, insurance status and sometimes diagnosis, individuals are matched to programs available through drug companies, co-payment cards, diagnosis-based foundations, as well as local and mail order pharmacy programs. In 2015, the MedRefer program helped residents save $1.1M in medication costs. Though not a valid assessment of the need in Cuyahoga County, the value saved indicates a significant need remains. Those who need help with prescriptions has changed however. In 2013, 8% of MedRefer clients were 65 years of age or older compared to 28% in 2015. In 2013, 81% of MedRefer clients were uninsured, compared to 44% in 2015. Some of these community members have private health insurance but cannot afford their prescription copayments. Others have Medicare Part D but are in the coverage gap or “donut-hole”, meaning their share of the cost has increased significantly. Still others are one of the nearly 11% of Cuyahoga County residents who remain uninsured despite the effects of the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid expansion. The medications they request most frequently have remained consistent. They include medications essential to treating chronic health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, mental illness, lung disease and inflammation/pain. Obtaining these medications is essential to their ability to support their families, to live healthier, more active lives and to be engaged, vibrant members of our community.
Recently Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish and the Cuyahoga County Health and Human Service Department committed to continued funding of 2-1-1 and the MedRefer program. Through this partnership, the MedRefer program will continue to improve access to life-saving medication for members of our community who need it most.