Miami-Dade County recently joined more than 1,400 counties across the country in bringing the Prescription Discount Card Program to help residents cope with the high cost of prescription medication.

The free card, which was introduced through a partnership with the National Association of Counties, offers area residents an average of 24 percent savings off the retail price of prescription medication, according to an announcement from the association.

But the card may be used only by those who do not have health insurance or by those who have prescriptions not covered by insurance. It may also be used for some pet medications and is accepted at nine  out of 10 pharmacies throughout the region.

Miami-Dade County Commissioner Sally A. Heyman spearheaded the introduction of the program, which is administered by CVS Caremark.

“In such a difficult economy, many residents are simply overwhelmed with the high cost of health care and necessary medications,” Heyman said in the announcement. “The best aspect of this program … is that it

provides all Miami-Dade residents significant

savings on their prescriptions whether they are insured or not.”

The card may be used by all Miami-Dade residents, regardless of age, income or existing health coverage and are available at county facilities such as commission offices, library branches and service centers.

“We’re pleased to work with counties around the country to bring this important program to their residents,” Andrew Goldschmidt, NACo’s director of Membership & Marketing, said in the announcement. “By working with our member counties, we are better positioned to develop programs that specifically target the needs of our nation’s counties. The Prescription Discount Card program is just one example of what we hope to accomplish.”

Since the program began in December 2004, participating counties have saved their residents more than $400 million on the cost of their prescriptions, the announcement said.

The card can be printed from the Internet at caremark.com/naco. Residents can find the nearest participating pharmacy from that Web site or by calling 1-877-321-2652.

For more information, call 3-1-1 or  visit miamidade.gov/ochp