Sherry Henney's husband was insured through the carpenter's union until the union's insurance rates jumped from $300 to $800 a month, and the couple had to cancel.

Talking on the phone between sales transactions at the grower's market in Jacksonville, where Sherry sells pasta, she said that she and her husband are actually paying less now for prescription drugs than when they had insurance. “There's not a lot of union (carpentry) work in southern Oregon,” she said. Then they found out about the Oregon Rx card program, which allows any Oregonian – insured or not – to enroll for discounts on prescription drugs. The discounts vary depending on the drug, said Andy Stocks, who directs the program, but average about 30 percent, with discounts of up to 75 percent on some drugs.  The enrollment process is relatively straightforward.

People can either apply at www.oregonrxcard.com or they can sign up in person at any Safeway store, Stocks said. The card works at all pharmacies, and there’s no cost for enrollment. “We try to make it as pharmacy—friendly as possible,” Stocks said. The program started in April 2009, and since then more than 50,000 Oregonians have enrolled. There are also no age restrictions on who can apply for the program. Henney found out about the program after searching for information about prescription drug assistance on the Internet. “I'm surprised more people don't know about it,” she said. “I've been telling everyone I know.” “It pretty much just discounts everything,” Stocks said. The program is paid for by pharmacies and pharmaceutical companies, and it receives no government funding.