Discounts on many brand and generic prescriptions are available now for islanders with a Hawaii Rx Card. The Hawaii Medical Association is working with the Hawaii Hotel & Lodging Association to promote the statewide prescription assistance program.

"As far as discounts, they can be as high as 75 percent, with average savings around 30 percent," said Alix Lee Cousins, Hawaii Rx program development director. "Most of all brands and generics are eligible for some form of discount. "Of course, the price and discount of every medication is different, but we feel if people are paying full price for their medications, they will appreciate any amount of money they can save," she added.

The Hawaii Rx Card program was launched to help uninsured residents pay for prescriptions, but it is free to all residents. Cards can be printed from the www.HawaiiRxCard.com Web site, and the medical and hotel associations will set up card distribution sites.

The hotel association will distribute cards to its hotels for employees, and visitors and cards will be sent to all HMA members, Cousins said in an e-mail.People who can use the card are those with health insurance with no prescription coverage, which is common in some health savings accounts and high-deductible health plans, she said.

Those with prescription coverage also can use the card for medications not covered by their insurance. HMA Executive Director April Troutman Donahue said the association is encouraging physician members to tell patients about the Hawaii Rx card.

"The people of Hawaii could really use a program like this to help offset the rising costs of prescription drugs," she said in a news release. "This program couldn't have come at a better time as our community continues to deal with the struggling economy." Murray Towill, president of the Hawaii Hotel & Lodging Association, said it is supporting the program "because it is a great way to help uninsured residents afford their prescription medications, as well as offer additional savings for prescription drugs not covered by insurance."

"The Hawaii Rx Card is a solution to the confusing maze of discount prescription programs that have appeared in recent years," the news release said. "Many of these programs only cover certain drugs, charge fees and many of these programs have membership restrictions."

Among the features of the Hawaii Rx Card program: There are no enrollment forms, no restrictions to participation, no eligibility or income requirements, no limitations, no waiting periods, no age restrictions or exclusions, no claim forms to file and no annual or lifetime limits.

Pre-existing conditions are included and an open formulary is used so all medications are eligible for discounts. Confidentiality is assured.

The program is possible through the support of pharmacies and pharmaceutical companies.

A "lowest price" provision gives cardholders the lowest plan price on prescriptions at participating pharmacies, and more than 50,000 pharmacies accept the card nationally.