According to a 2015 survey by Consumer Reports, one-third of Americans paid an average of $39 more than usual for prescriptions, while one in 10 Americans paid an extra $100 out of pocket for regular medications. Among the drugs that saw the highest increases in price were medications to treat asthma, high blood pressure and diabetes.
So what’s the result of the rising price of prescriptive drugs? Employers and insurance providers transfer some of these costs to consumers, forcing them to pay a larger share through their monthly premiums and co-pays. This financial scenario leaves your employees with two options: pay the higher price and cut costs in other areas of personal spending, or forgo filling their prescriptions.
With regard to this price hike, the Consumer Reports survey shows shocking consequences over the past year: Twenty-four percent of respondents skipped filling a prescription, 18 percent skipped a scheduled dose, and 17 percent took an expired medication. All these consequences could have a negative effect on the respondents’ health.
As an employer, you want to ensure that employees who suffer from chronic illnesses get regular prescriptions so their physical health and work performance will not suffer. The best way to get around this price hike is to educate your employees on the best methods to purchase prescriptions.
Here are a couple strategies you should communicate to your workforce:
Some insurance plans employ a system of tiered cost sharing, which may take the form of co-pays. In a tiered model, drugs are allocated to different tiers and cost more or less based on their placement. Tier 1 drugs are usually limited to generic drugs and have the lowest co-pays. Tier 2 comprises preferred brand-name drugs and carries middle-value co-pays. Tier 3 consists of nonpreferred brand-name drugs and has even higher co-pays. Finally, Tier 4 is restricted to specialty drugs that are usually newly approved and carries the highest co-pays. Consider collaborating with your insurance provider to compile and simplify the relevant information on drug tiers to help your employees make the right choice.
You can promote the use of low-cost mass-communication technologies, such as sending automated reminders for prescription refills and referrals to appropriate online resources. Accomplish this efficiently by working closely with your insurance providers and their network of pharmacists. Such modes of communication are appropriate for behavior-change interventions, as health-related information can be customized for specific groups of recipients and reinforced to achieve positive outcomes.
Disseminate this information in as many forms as possible: email, online guides or even fliers. This ensures the message gets across to a broad audience. On top of that, communicate consistently with your insurance provider to see how employees needing regular medication can best fill their prescriptions in a timely and methodical manner. Making sure your employees are equipped with the right information will pay off in the long run, because their good health and well-being translates to better work performance.
Emmie Sahlan has a graduate degree in English and has been writing professionally for the past five years. Her niche areas are insurance, credit cards, personal finance and education.