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County residents eligible for prescription drug discounts

Public health officials admit it sounds too good to be true, but they insist it’s for real: Beginning now, all Merced County residents are eligible for discounts on prescription drugs not covered by insurance.

It’s free. You don’t have to fill out any paperwork. And it even covers medications for pets.

“Even though it’s April 1st, this isn’t a joke,” John Volanti, the county’s public health director, said during a Tuesday press conference announcing a new countywide prescription discount program. “We think it’s going to save a lot of families a lot of money.”

The new program is offered through the National Association of Counties (NACO).

Here’s how it works.

All county residents, regardless of age, income or existing health coverage, can pick up free discount cards at locations across the county. You don’t have to register, you can use it immediately, it doesn’t expire, there are no limits on how many times it can be used and one card covers an entire household.

They’re good on almost all prescriptions your insurance won’t cover — or all prescriptions if you have no insurance — and they’re good at 25 pharmacies across the county, including Walgreens, Wal-Mart, Costco, Rite Aid, CVS, Save Mart, Longs Drugs, Raley’s and several locally owned pharmacies.

The average discount is 20 percent, and the card can be used for both generic and name-brand drugs.