Methodists offer members discount drugs
In what is believed to be a first for a religious denomination, the United Methodist Church in the USA is offering discount drug cards that slash up to 65 percent off most prescriptions.
Representatives of Methodist churches across the country voted to offer the benefit during a weekend conference in Nashville.
The move is said to have arisen ñ at least in part - because of the ageing church membership. The average age of United Methodists' more than 8 million members is 57 - the oldest of any denomination in the USA.
"This is a wonderful thing that the church is doing," member Lucy Wood, of Omaha told the Associated Press. She said she could spend more than 0 in a month for her medications.
Every member is eligible and the discounts apply to such things as contact lenses and vitamins, as well as prescriptions.
It is believe that the move may also boost church membership. It is estimated that 40 million Americans have little or no prescription drug insurance and the new discount card could therefore be an attractive proposition.
A Los Angeles-based discounter of prescription drugs will offer the discount cards free to Methodists, whose congregations may then open the benefit to members of other churches. The company requires only that members of other churches register through a United Methodist church.
The drug discount card doesn't cost the church anything - the company that administers the card wanted to test the idea and is getting millions of new customers.
"I think it would be wonderful," said Wood. "We're a pretty good group, I think."
The Methodists are taking calls from other interested denominations, including the Catholic Church.