Neighbor’s Pharmacy opened in February of this year, giving working uninsured individuals access to prescription medication for a single, $10 a month fee.
“The pharmacy was established to fulfill a need in the community for access to affordable medication,” explained Henry Irvin, executive director and pharmacist-in-charge. “We help people who don’t have insurance, who aren’t able to afford their medication.”
Irvin explained that since Faith Community Health opened its doors in 2010 in Branson, the nonprofit healthcare clinic has provided low-cost healthcare to the working uninsured and underinsured in the community. An important piece of that work included providing prescription medication to their patients through medication room. As the years went on and more patients from other healthcare providers were referred to Faith Community Health for help with prescriptions, the need for a charitable pharmacy became apparent.
“About four years ago, it started with legislation,” Irvin said. “For the state of Missouri, there were no rules or regulations for what a charitable pharmacy was, even though charitable pharmacies have been in operation for years in other parts of the country.”
When legislation changed in 2021, it paved the way for Faith Community Health to move forward with fundraising and eventually opening the pharmacy in Branson this year.
“The main benefit of having a pharmacy over a med room like we had at Faith Community Health is that we are now able to reach the entire community, not just Faith Community Health patients,” Irvin said.
To qualify to become a member of Neighbor’s Pharmacy, individuals must be uninsured or underinsured and not make more than three times the federal poverty limit.
“We used to say it was low income, but actually, when you look at the numbers, it is the majority of our community,” Irvin said.
To meet the income guidelines, an individual would need to earn no more than $43,000 annually. For a family of four, their income could not exceed about $90,000 annually.
Through a three year, $180,000 Skaggs Legacy Endowment grant, Skaggs Foundation is helping the pharmacy become a permanent part of the community.
“Skaggs Foundation really helped us put together a development team with grant writing, data analytics, and a development director so that we could go out into the community and do donor relations because our income is based on donations and grants,” Irvin said. “That grant writer piece, that director of development piece, it is super important for us because that is how we are going to keep our doors open. Skaggs Foundation helped tremendously.”
For many patients, a pharmacy that provides prescription medicines for a single, $10 a month membership fee would be quiet the surprise, but Irvin said that is not all patients are happy to learn.
“What surprises people the most is that we don’t sell anything,” he said. “All of our medications, all of our services, all of our testing supplies that we offer (including over the counter medications), we don’t charge for those.”
Since opening on Feb. 23, Neighbor’s Pharmacy has served more than 350 unique individuals, filling more than 4,500 prescriptions. The value of those prescriptions is nearing $1 million.
“I think the biggest thing I want people to know about the pharmacy is that we are here to serve the uninsured in the community and we want people to understand, this is not a charity,” Irvin said. “We are a charitable pharmacy but we are operating as a normal community pharmacy and the only thing is, we are here for those who are uninsured.”
To learn more about Neighbor’s Pharmacy, visit MyNeighborsCharitablePharmacy.org.