The cost of prescription drugs went up by 10.43 percent in 2015, according to Anthem. This is bad news since your employees use their prescription benefits roughly three times as often as medical benefits. To control costs, employees can compare prescription prices and find ways to spend less.
Benefit to Your Employees
Whenever your employees go to fill a prescription, they may need to pay out-of-pocket either for a deductible or copayment. Every time they find a lower cost option, they will save money. In the long-term, if your entire workforce is mindful about prescriptions, you can keep your plan premiums from increasing so you have more money leftover for other employee benefits.
When your employees understand the financial benefit, they will be more motivated to compare prescription prices and look for ways to spend less. You should also stress that these strategies will not prevent employees from getting the care they need. With prescriptions, employees are often able to get the exact same treatment at a lower price.
Strategy 1 – Lower Cost Alternatives
There are a couple of ways employees can save money on prescriptions, depending on how they take them. First, they could try to buy generic versions of their medicine rather than brand-name, whenever possible. Generic drugs are identical, but cost roughly 30 to 80 percent less than brand-name drugs, according to BCBS.
Second, if your employees require specialty drugs that need to be administered by a medical professional, they could consider where they receive treatment. In one example, an infused drug costs on average $4,382 when administered at a doctor’s office and $4,847 at home, according to Anthem. On the other hand, it costs roughly $9,100 at the hospital, nearly twice as much.
You could consider setting up your plan so that employees must apply for permission to use the higher cost administrative method, since the savings are so significant.
Strategy 2 – Smarter Shopping
Employees can also save money based on where they buy prescriptions. If your plan uses in-network pharmacies, your employees should always shop there because these pharmacies have agreed to charge a lower rate for your plan.
Your employees can also check with your insurer to see whether they can receive their prescriptions by mail. Some prescriptions can be purchased in bulk by mail for a lower price.
Finally, employees could see whether a discount program is available at their pharmacy. With the store discount, it may be less expensive to pay for some drugs out-of-pocket rather than using the insurance. In this instance, your employee could save money while your plan avoids a claim.
Strategy 3 – Proper Use of Medicine
A great way to control costs is by keeping your employees healthy in the first place. Remind employees that they should always follow their doctor’s orders when they are prescribed medicine. According to PhRMA, nearly 75 percent of adults are nonadherent with medications, meaning they either didn’t fill a new prescription or didn’t complete the entire course of a treatment.
When your employees don’t properly take their prescriptions, your employees risk getting even sicker than before. Not only does this mean more expensive treatment, the employee is putting their health in danger. Your employees have prescription drug coverage, so encourage them to use it properly.
Finding lower prices for prescription drugs takes a little work but leads to big savings. If your employees consider these recommendations, they will pay less for their medication and so will you.
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