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sticker shock leads to abandoned prescription drugs

October 14, 2010

in health communication

more people are filling, then leaving their prescriptions, driven away by high price tags and higher copays and deductibles. nearly one in 10 brand-name prescriptions has been abandoned, according to a review by wolters kluwer pharma solutions. even generic prescriptions have become too expensive.

deserted drugs

as i and others have written, employers are making decisions to control costs that have long-term ramifications for their employees’ health and their own bottom line. this annual enrollment period shows no signs of relief, with more companies intending to increase employees’ out-of-pocket costs in the 2011 plan year. the potential upside of all this cost-shifting and cost-sharing is that it jars employees into a greater appreciation for the true cost of their health care, leading them to better educate themselves about their choices. and perhaps to embrace available wellness support. right now, however, it largely seems to be forcing employees to make tough choices. in the past year more than 45% of americans have foregone some type of health care.

to reduce the chances of health care rationing, employers can get out in front of the problem and make sure they’re equipping employees to make informed decisions. sure, employees should know what their copay is and how much it costs for X, Y or Z brand-name drug—and which of these they were prescribed. the fact is, they don’t. the onus is on the employer to make this information accessible at the point of need, whether that need is choosing or using one’s benefits. easier-to-understand benefits documents, quicker-to-locate online information, point-of-purchase mobile decision aids—all of these would lessen the chance of someone coming to pick up their prescription only to find it’s too expensive to actually buy.


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