Those having a tough time paying for prescription medications may be able to get some help from a discount program that has just become available in New Hampshire.

United Networks of America is launching the New Hampshire Rx Card, which provides savings up to 75 percent on prescription drugs and other health products at participating pharmacies and retailers.

The goal, said Alix Cousins, New Hampshire Rx Card program development director at United Networks of America, is to help those who are uninsured or under-insured, although the card is available to all Granite Staters, making it an option for those with Medicare Part D, health savings accounts or high deductible plans, under which medication costs come out of insureds' pockets until the deductible is reached.

Those with traditional health insurance or employer-sponsored health plans also can receive a discount on drugs not covered by their insurance, or non-formulary drugs.

The program is receiving support from the Business and Industry Association of New Hampshire and the New Hampshire Medical Society.

"Our members tell us all the time what a huge problem the rising cost of health care is as they try to provide that benefit to their employees," Jim Roche, president of the BIA, told NHBR on a phone interview. "We support the New Hampshire Rx Card program to the extent that we can help provide a service to our members to help mitigate some of those costs."

The BIA is contacting its members to inform them of the program.

"A lot of people ask questions, but it really is a simple program," said UNA's Cousins.

By that, Cousins means members do not have to fill out any reimbursement or claim forms, there are no annual or lifetime limits, age or pre-existing condition restrictions nor eligibility requirements.

The program is paid for through price agreements between United Networks of America and participating pharmacies and pharmaceutical manufacturers.

While savings on medications can be as high at 75 percent, the typical discount is about 30 percent.

For example, Lipitor 10 mg, a popular cholesterol-lowering drug, could retail for $101.98 for 30 pills, according to a statement released by New Hampshire Rx Card. With the card, members would pay $88 – a savings of 13 percent. Another example is a 30-count prescription of the narcotic painkiller oxycodone with APAP-10 325 mg, which costs $20.28 before savings and $9.30 after the discount – a 54 percent savings.

The blood pressure-reducer Diovan retails for $90.63, but costs $72.39 with the card, a 20 percent discount.

An independent check by NHBR of drug prices through the state's Medicine Cabinet Web site reflected that the pre-discount retail prices are in-line with the prices listed at various drug stores across the state.

New Hampshire residents can sign up for the point-of-sale discount program card at nhrxcard.com. For those without Internet access, a card may be obtained at Shaw's Osco pharmacies.

Once the card is received, residents can present it at the participating pharmacy at the time they purchase their prescriptions to receive their discount.

While Shaw's Osco is the preferred retail pharmacy of the program, said Cousins, the card is accepted at most major retail pharmacies, such as Walgreens, CVS and Rite-Aid, as well as many other stores around the state, including Stop & Shop, Walmart and Costco.

The card also is accepted outside of New Hampshire at 50,000 pharmacies across the United States and its territories, Cousins said.

A number of other benefits are also included under the discount card such as diabetic supplies, hearing aids, eyeglass frames and even teeth whitening from participating providers.