The United Way of York County is part of a national effort to help people save $1 billion in prescription costs by the end of 2015.

The United Way Worldwide and FamilyWize Community Service Partnership Inc. recently agreed to continue working together for the next 10 years to make prescriptions affordable, especially to people who are uninsured or underinsured.

As part of the agreement, more than 1,000 United Way chapters, including the York organization, help distribute free FamilyWize prescription discount cards that are accepted at more than 60,000 pharmacies nationwide, including CVS, Rite Aid, Walgreens, K-Mart, Target and Walmart.

United Way Worldwide has been part of the card distribution effort since FamilyWize, based in Bethlehem, Lehigh County, was established in 2005.

Savings: The United Way chapters work with their member agencies and with large and small businesses to get the cards to as many people as possible, said Nicole Shaffer, director of marketing and communications for the United Way of York County at 800 E. King St. in York City.

The local office joined the effort in 2007, helping more than 25,200 local people save close to $643,780 in prescription costs, Shaffer said.

"We're thrilled about this because anytime we can help people save money in any part of their lives, they can use those dollars, invest that back into growing their education or growing their income," she said. "We want to empower people to be giving members of society, to be happy and healthy members in the community who are prospering in their lives."

Getting cards: No registration is required to obtain the prescription discount cards, which are available for everyone regardless of their economic backgrounds or medical plans, Shaffer said.

To get the free card, people can print it from the United Way or the FamilyWize websites. They also can visit the York United Way office to pick up a card. All card holders will receive a list of pharmacies that accept the cards, Shaffer said.

"Even if you have a prescription plan, (the card) may give an additional prescription discount up to 75 percent off the brand name and generic drugs," she said. "Just present the card wherever you get medicines. People getting medical assistance will get higher (discounts). Your plan would affect how much you get."

The discount cards can only be used for medicines approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The card can be used to get discounts on medicines not covered by insurance, according to FamilyWize's website.

Cards reusable: The discount cards, which have an expiration date of Dec. 31, 2020, are reusable as long as the FamilyWize prescription program remains in effect, Shaffer said.

Funding for the FamilyWize cards come from receiving part of the dispensing fees included in the cost of medicines when the card is used, from in-kind donations and from program sponsors' reduced costs.

FamilyWize has helped at least 6 million people save more than $600 million on prescription costs, according to the organization.

—Reach Eyana Adah McMillan at emcmillan@yorkdispatch.com.