Methodists Bless Drug Discounts

March 18, 2004 ( - An arm of the United Methodist Church has a solution to high priced prescription drugs for its members - free pharmacy discount cards.

The governing board of the Dayton, Ohio-based United Methodist Association of Health and Welfare Ministries (UMM) has given a green light to the distribution of a pharmacy card that offers its 8.3 million members up to 65% off the cost of prescription drugs. The discounts are available to all UMM church members, regardless of insurance coverage, income or health status, according to a Drug Cost Management Report.

UMM church leaders said the plan resulted from two years of research into how the church could use its economic strength to help members afford better health care. With the average UMM parishioner’s age being 57, prescription drugs were high on the radar screen of health-care expenses. “Some of our members were having to choose between whether they buy their medicines or whether they have groceries to live on,” Reverend Mearle Griffith, president and chief executive officer (CEO) of the association told the Drug Cost Management Report.

Griffith estimates better than half of the membership will take advantage of the card. To facilitate the drug card exchange, DestinationRX, the Los Angeles-based pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) offering the cards, waived its regular annual fee of $90 to $120 so that the church could offer the cards free to members. In addition to prescription drugs, the card also offers members discounts on contact lenses and vitamins.

Looking to expand the offer to those in need of prescription drug relief, Griffith also said members of other churches may be allowed to sign up for the discount card. However, this would depend on individual UMM congregations as outside members would be required to register through a UMM member church.