The Battle Against High Prescription Drug Prices

Americans are paying more for prescription medication and it’s time to start paying attention.

This post will explore a recent investigation conducted by Consumer Reports, where it was uncovered that one-third of Americans are seeing higher prices for prescriptions. Beyond that, one-in-six people actually chose to avoid getting a prescription filled because of the cost.

As we know, the cost of staying healthy as continued to burden consumers and employees alike. Employers are implementing new strategies to transfer premium costs to employees, while desperately trying to mitigate those increases with other value added solutions and support. Financial, physical and mental wellness have become hot button issues in the workplace as employee stress levels grow alongside their personal financial obligations. All of these factors are connected, where employees lose focus at work and pay less attention to caring for their physical well-being.

While companies and carriers worry more about the cost of overall medical treatment and healthcare services, the issue of prescription drug prices continues to escalate. Many employers rely on a PBM to manage their drug benefit program, but focusing on the corporate impact of prescription benefits is only half the battle. In this new era of healthcare consumerism, employees are more than capable of bearing more responsibility when it comes to personally managing their benefits – but they need help in order to do so. 

Benefit technology and new innovations in healthcare delivery have made it easier for employees to access and interact with their employer sponsored health programs, but we still have a long way to go. Particularly when it comes to mitigating the cost of prescription drug prices.

In an article published by The Consumerist, Lisa Gill, deputy editor of CR Best Buy Drugs explains, “Consumers aren’t used to questioning prices for pharmaceutical drugs—nor are they used to shopping around and haggling – but they could save themselves a lot of money if they do.”

 

Let’s take a look at the 5 factors that are generally attributed to prescription price hikes:

  • Drug companies can charge whatever they want
  • Insurance companies are also charging more
  • Old drugs are reformulated as costly new drugs
  • Generic drug shortages can trigger massive price increases
  • And finally… Specialty drugs are costing all of us

 

So what does this mean for the consumer? According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the number of employees enrolled in plans with deductibles over $1,000 has increased from less than 10% to almost 50% in just ten years. So Americans are facing higher deductibles, higher monthly premiums and higher co-pays for expensive drugs. These costly expenses are lowering the U.S. consumer’s quality of life – forcing individuals to abandon taking much needed medications, avoid practicing essential preventive care measures to stay healthy and reducing overall productivity and focus in
employees.

Employees need the help and support of their employers to face these challenging healthcare issues and more attention needs to be paid in particular to the costly expense of prescription medications. The problem is, consumers don’t have access to the tools, resources and transparency they need in order to make informed decisions when purchasing drugs. It doesn’t just come down to having a PBM in place, but rather, employers need to adopt more consumer-facing solutions that enable employees to manage, shop around and compare personal prescriptions.

Consumer Reports found that drugs could cost as much as 10 times more at one retailer vs. another, and those aren’t just regional differences. The very same medication could cost twice as much, if not more, at neighboring pharmacies – but consumers rarely have the means to compare this information. About 40% of people surveyed in the report said they cut corners with their medications to make ends meet – they split spills without their doctor’s approval, skip doses or simply don’t fill their prescription at all.

map of medication prices

The Consumer Reports research discussed in this post offers a comprehensive amount of information that can help individuals save money on prescription drug costs. These 6 Tips for Finding the Best Prescription Drug Prices are a helpful start, but employers trying to reduce their overall drug spend and promote a culture of healthcare consumerism can do much, much more for their employees.

By leveraging no-cost, value added solutions aimed at the consumer, companies can finally offer employees the comprehensive support they need in order to fully manage their own personal care – thereby lowering costs for everyone involved. Separate from a PBM, employers can implement innovative programs and software solutions that help employees use their pharmacy benefit, but spend less money in doing so. Consumers can educate themselves on the ways to save on generic to generic, uncover realized cost savings on specialty drugs, and compare different prices at different pharmacies.

The technology is out there, but it’s up to employers to finally take advantage of these innovative advancements in consumer medication management before the overall health of the population continues to decrease at alarming rates.

For more information on how your company can leverage a no-cost, personalized prescription savings solution for your employees –
click to contact benefitsContinuum today.

phone email clipart

Additional Links/Resources:

21 Disturbing Facts about High Prescription Drug Prices

Analysis Uncovers Huge Spike in Prescription Drug Prices

Consumer Reports Research: Battling High Prescription Drug Prices

Leave a Reply