asking for lower-cost alternatives or samples. cutting pills in half. reducing the recommended frequency. skipping the medication altogether. these are the actions people take to manage their increased ownership and the increased cost of prescription drugs.

according to the 2014 employer benefits trend study from kaiser, the majority of covered workers are in a plan with three or more tiers of cost-sharing. among these workers, here’s how the average copayment breaks down:

  • $11 for first-tier drugs
  • $31 for second-tier drugs
  • $53 for third-tier drugs
  • $83 for fourth-tier drugs

for employees responsible for coinsurance and not a copayment, it looks like this:

  • 19% for first-tier drugs
  • 24% for second-tier drugs
  • 37% for third-tier drugs
  • 29% for fourth-tier drugs

now take those figures and multiply by two, because over 50% of americans take two prescription drugs. or multiply it by five. twenty percent of americans take five or more prescription drugs.

that’s a high-ticket item causing high levels of stress and financial finagling. and that’s why we focused on prescription drugs in our second show in our series on financial well-being. our guest was dough hirsch, co-CEO of goodRX.

goodRx does not sell drugs, but it does exist to make it easier and more cost-effective for consumers to buy them. goodRX is a price-comparison tool that directs consumers to the cheapest, closest pharmacy for the prescriptions they need. if they take more than one, goodRX directs them to the pharmacy with the best deal on the combined cost. plug in the drug name, plug in the zip code. goodRX combs its database and plays back the options. it’s fast, it’s transparent.

initially started as a consumer tool, goodRX continued to hear from employees who wished their employer offered the service as a benefit. they also started hearing from employers. so recently, goodRX responded with an enterprise version.

find out more. listen to our 30-minute conversation on this month’s cohealth checkup.

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is there a difference in well-being if you’re white collar or blue collar? yes. there’s a difference in access to employer-provided resources, a difference in lifestyle habits, and a substantial difference in health, with blue-collar workers found at the bottom of the heap in gallup’s scoring of well-being by occupation.

virgin.com asked me to write about this difference and how employers can level the playing field. read on…

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what you should tell your employees about the EEOC proposed wellness ruling

May 15, 2015

in april the EEOC issued a proposed rule to provide employers with much-needed guidance on the use of incentives as part of their wellness strategy. the proposed rule seeks to clean up the confusion resulting from the EEOC’s filing of several lawsuits last year. there are several sources for getting up to speed on the […]

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cohealth checkup kicks off series on financial well-being

May 6, 2015

early in april i found myself in las vegas to speak at the human resource executive health & benefits leadership conference. also speaking was carol harnett, my cohealth checkup co-host. we noted how prevalent the topic of financial well-being was over the course of the conference. this tracked with a growing focus on employee financial well-being among companies […]

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gender parity, freedom and responsibility, wonder at life rule at virgin disruptors event

April 23, 2015

three hours of discussion about workplace well-being at today’s virgin disruptors event and here’s what i didn’t hear: health risk assessment, biometrics, incentives, penalties, health care, health risk reduction, ROI. the lineup told you this panel on workplace well-being would not be your typical one. arranged by richard branson and the virgin group, the main panel […]

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6 tips for leveraging a wellness council

April 16, 2015

many companies form wellness councils to incorporate a broad range of opinion and experience into their strategy and to keep all players informed so the left hand knows what the right hand is doing. in my experience, these councils are invaluable, provided they follow certain guidelines. 1. fill the seats with the right bodies. it’s a given […]

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NBGH/fidelity survey finds employers accelerating incentives, decelerating penalties

March 27, 2015

a survey from the national business group on health and fidelity asked employers to shed some light on their approach to incentives. based on phone surveys and responses from 121 companies, NBGH and fidelity learned: incentive amounts have risen at all companies. the average incentive for companies with between 5,000 and 20,000 employees is now […]

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health, the healthy bottom line, and rose-colored glasses

January 23, 2015

this post reviews the connection between increased wages and better business and employee health. for more on the topic, listen to february’s cohealth checkup, for which we’re joined by economist jan zilinsky and restauranteur bobby fry. this show will be available here beginning february 4th at noon EST.   in 2014, the movement to increase wages for […]

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top 3 cohealth checkup shows of 2014

January 15, 2015

  last year was an abbreviated year for cohealth checkup, a monthly internet radio show on workplace wellness trends i cohost with carol harnett. still, there was a wealth of content, with our top three shows clocking in 2,000 to 7,000 listens. 3. health at every size: is there room in today’s wellness approach? our […]

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jumping back in

January 9, 2015

wow, i’m rusty. i actually started writing the headline for this post in title case! some of you are aware that my mother was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer in august 2013. my sister-in-law was diagnosed at the same time with stage II breast cancer. in september 2013 i decided to curtail any discretionary […]

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