CHICAGO (CBS) — The Chicago Rx Card was supposed to save Chicagoans up to 80 percent on prescriptions, but CBS 2 Investigators found those numbers to be way off. Chicago Rx Card admitted problems and is now launching a massive investigation.
Hundreds of Chicagoans have already signed up for the card, which was launched in mid July, taking advantage of the 59,000 pharmacies across the nation offering discounts.
That kind of discount was enough to attract one CBS 2 caller who didn’t want to be identified but wanted to share her experience.
“I was very excited,” she said.
The excitement didn’t last. She went online, signed up for the card and hoped to use it to buy asthma medication. With the card, Symbicort was $35.26 at Walgreens. But when she called the pharmacist, the prices with the discount was $373.95.
“I almost had a stroke,” the woman said. “That’s a big difference. $373 a month is ridiculous, and I think I’m going to save 80 percent.”
The prices of two other drugs were equally surprising. Proair, listed on the Chicago Rx site for $9.19, was $72.04. And Montelukast, advertised as $5 or less was $53.86.
“I’m very upset,” the woman said. “I’m not saving any money.”
“You should be able to get the medication you need for your health, not at a price you can’t afford, but at a price you can afford,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said when the card was launched.
As it turns out, these prices are wrong, according to Financial Marketing Concepts, which operates the Chicago Rx program for the city.
In an email they wrote, “We were not aware of these issues until you and other City of Chicago residents brought this to our attention. We are sorry for any inconvenience.”
The manager of the card blamed the pricing problem on “technical issues.”
There are 60,000 drugs on the Chicago Rx site, so CBS 2 asked if some of the other prices were wrong.
Because of the CBS 2 investigation, the managers at Chicago Rx say they will now review all of the drug prices.
City officials expressed disappointment and say they expect the vendor to correct the problem.