Untitled Document

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 18, 2010

ESSEX COUNTY FREEHOLDERS AND COUNTY EXECUTIVE INTRODUCE
“ESSEX COUNTY WELLNESS DISCOUNT PROGRAM”

June 10th Presentation to Local Officials Trumpets the Savings Available to County Residents for Prescription Drugs, Hearing Exams & Hearing Aids, Vision Exams, Eyeglasses, Contact Lenses and Lasik Eye Surgery, Dental Care, Diabetic Supplies and Pet Medications

 

(Newark, NJ) – The Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders and County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr., co-hosted a presentation on Thursday, June 10th, in the Freeholder Chambers at the Hall of Records for approximately 50 local officials to announce the County’s new “Essex County Wellness Discount Program”.  The discount program, which is offered to all Essex County residents free-of-charge, and without regard to age or income, offers significant discounts for a wide range of medical needs: prescription drugs; vision exams, eyeglasses, contact lenses and Lasik eye surgery, hearing exams and hearing aids, dental care and the ProSmile teeth-whitening system, diabetic supplies and even pet medications.


Pictured above (from left to right) are:  Freeholder Rufus I. Johnson, Freeholder Carol Y. Clark, County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr., Freeholder President Blonnie R. Watson, County Administrator Joyce Wilson Harley and Allan Caan, Director of the Bergen County Wellness Discount Program.  (Photo by Glen Frieson)

  

In welcoming the invited guests, which included mayors, municipal council members, clerks and administrators, health officers, library directors and school superintendents, Freeholder President Blonnie R. Watson of Newark recounted the Freeholder Board’s search for the best possible discount program, and of eventually finding it “…just up the road in Bergen County”, where the Bergen County Wellness Discount Program has been in operation for the last 2 ½ years.  She spoke about how the Freeholder Board and the Administration had “…joined hands to implement this discount program that will save Essex County residents significant amounts of money during these difficult times, when people are having a hard time paying their rents and mortgages, and especially their bills for medical services and supplies.”  She also encouraged the attendees to help get the word out to the residents of their respective towns so they can begin to reap the benefits of the program as soon as possible.


Freeholder President Blonnie R. Watson welcomes elected and appointed officials from around the county to the Essex County Wellness Discount Program presentation in the Freeholder Chambers.  (Photo by Glen Frieson)


Essex County Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr., echoed the importance of making people aware of the program and applauded this initiative that will benefit all the residents of Essex County, saying, “I commend Freeholder President Blonnie Watson and the entire Board of Freeholders for bringing the Wellness Program to Essex County.  In these difficult economic times, especially with the cost of health care rising, this Wellness Program is a welcome resource that will make prescription drugs and health, vision and dental care more affordable for our residents.”  He also pointed out that the program is a win win for county residents and the County, in that the more it is used by residents and the more they save individually, the more revenue the program will also put into the County’s coffers at a rate of $0.50 per prescription filled.


County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr., encourages officials in attendance to help get the word out to residents of their communities about the benefits of the Wellness Program.  (Photo by Glen Frieson)

 

The “Essex County Wellness Discount Program” is a shared service initiative between the County of Essex and the County of Bergen operating under the umbrella of United Networks of America, Inc., a networking company that is one of the largest providers of value-added managed care products and services in the nation with more than 240,000 participating providers serving more than 72.4 million members.  It is not an insurance policy, but rather a simple, easy-to-use discount program for which no one must enroll or meet eligibility requirements; simply put, it is available to any Essex County resident, and can be used anywhere in the country at participating vendors.

Foremost among the program’s benefits is the Prescription Drug Card, which offers discounts ranging from 10%-75% on prescription drugs purchased at local pharmacies and national chain stores such as CVS, WAL-MART, Safeway, K-Mart Pharmacy, Walgreens, Kroger, Target, Stop & Shop, and many others.  Although the discount card will be most beneficial to uninsured residents, it can be very helpful to insured individuals who do not have prescription coverage and also help them achieve discounts for specific medications that are not covered by their insurance providers.  It can also be used as a Medicare Part D supplement for those drugs not covered by Medicare that fall into the infamous “doughnut hole”.  Additionally, the Prescription Drug Card even offers discounts of up to 50% on human equivalent prescriptions for pet medications.

The Program includes an eye care component that offers either fixed-dollar or percentage discounts (typically 30%) off retail prices for both eye examinations and corrective materials, including contact lenses, at member providers like Pearle Vision, Sears Optical, Eye DRx, JCPenny Optical and Target Optical.  A $25 Eyeglass Program is also offered on a mail order basis via the internet, whereby prescriptions are filled, purchasers choose from a robust selection of frames, and then the finished eyeglasses are mailed to them with a carrying case and a one-year frame guarantee.  Residents may also save 40-50% off the national average on laser vision correction procedures through the QualSight Laser Vision Correction Program, which will assist in locating a preferred provider from a list of credentialed, Board-certified ophthalmologists.

The Program’s hearing benefits package offers a complete hearing evaluation and up to a 50% discount on most major brands of hearing aids, as well as a 60-day trial, 2-year repair warranty, 1-year loss and damage policy and a 1-year supply of batteries shipped directly to residents’ homes.  Mail order diabetic savings plans are also offered that permit individuals to either choose a discount plan or purchase individual items such as test strips, lancets and glucose meters through a website.  The dental component, however, requires the individual to first purchase one of more than 15 different annual dental plans, although he/she will receive a 30% discount on the price of that plan; each plan offers a list of dental procedures (including cosmetic dentistry and orthodontics) for which the individual will be charged pre-set, discounted prices.


County Administrator Joyce Wilson Harley, Esq., espouses the benefits of the Essex County Wellness Discount Program and of the shared-services agreement with Bergen County.  (Photo by Glen Frieson)

  

In her remarks, County Administrator Joyce Wilson Harley stated, “… whether you are insured or not, this (program) is your passport to savings on health care and wellness, not just for yourself, put also for your pets.”  She also emphasized that the Program is extremely “user-friendly”, that the “Essex County Wellness Discount Program” brochure contains websites and toll-free numbers pertaining to each of the benefits, and that individuals need only cut the discount card out of the brochure and present it to participating vendors to avail themselves of the substantial savings.

Freeholder Rufus I. Johnson of Newark said it was “a great day for Essex County”, and said he would be happy to “… be a modern-day Paul Revere and ride through my community to bring this good news to the people, because we all have friends and family members who are struggling with the high costs of subscriptions.”  He went on to say, “We have been working on this for the last year and a half, or so, and I am so glad it has finally come to fruition.”

“I feel like we just passed the Health Care Reform Act!” joked Freeholder Carol Y. Clark of East Orange, referring to her longstanding advocacy with Freeholder President Watson to put just such a Program together and roll it out to Essex County residents.  “As elected officials, we are here to help and to try to come up with these kinds of solutions, if we can.  I am just so pleased to be able to finally give something back to the residents of Essex County, and that’s all we ever wanted to do.”


Allan Caan, Director of the Bergen County Wellness Discount Program explains tells the audience about the success of the program in Bergen County, which has been operation for more than 2 ½ years, and discusses the many benefits of the program in great detail.  (Photo by Glen Frieson)

  

Allan Caan, the Director of the Bergen County Wellness Discount Program told the audience of how the program had “…taken off like wild fire…” in Bergen County where, in 2009, residents saved more than $3.5 million dollars in prescription discounts alone.  “Although it may sound too good to be true, it isn’t!  This has been a great program for us in Bergen County, and from what I’ve seen from working with your Essex County officials so far, I am sure it will be just as successful here.”


Freeholder President Watson (right), County Executive DiVincenzo (center) and Leysa Lopina (left), Nursing Supervisor for the Irvington Department of Neighborhood Services, get acquainted prior to start of the presentation.  (Photo by Glen Frieson)

 

The entire “Essex County Wellness Discount Program” brochure, which explains the various components and provides the respective website addresses and toll-free numbers, may be viewed and printed via the Freeholder Board’s website by logging-on to http://freeholders.essexcountynj.org and then clicking “Essex County Wellness Discount Program” under the “Information From Freeholders Office” heading.  There, the “Rx Prescription Drug” and “Eye Care” cards may also be printed individually.  For additional information, please call Deborah Davis Ford, Clerk of the Board, at 973-621-4486.

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For Additional Information:
Gary Kroessig, Public Information
Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders
973-621-4452 (phone) 973-621-5696 (fax)
gkroessig@freeholders.essexcountynj.org

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Board of Chosen Freeholders, County of Essex
Hall of Records - Room 558, 465 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Blvd., Newark, New Jersey 07102
Tel: (973) 621-4486 Fax: (973) 621-5695