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The majority of Americans who buy prescription drugs say they are concerned about the costs of their medications, but most are unaware of how much their new prescriptions cost and whether there are lower-cost options, according to a national survey sponsored by insurer UnitedHealthcare.
Consumers' unfamiliarity with lower-cost options and generic alternatives means that consumers might be missing out on significant out-of-pocket savings. For example, UnitedHealthcare estimates that in its plans there could be an annual health care savings of $1.1 billion, including more than $490 million saved on co-pays, if fully insured plan members switched to lower-cost options such as generic equivalents.
The survey highlights a troubling trend: Thirty percent of respondents indicated that the high cost of prescriptions had caused them to skip doses or not take their medication.
Among other findings from the survey, which was conducted in August 2010:
Information on Cost-Saving Options
The survey indicated that a majority of Americans who buy prescriptions are interested in learning more about lower-cost options. According to UnitedHealthcare, ways to helping employees better understand the costs of medications so as to reduce their prescription drug spending while maintaining clinical effectiveness include:
"We've seen very good uptake from our members who are aware of the half-tablet program," Heady added, especially when pharmacists are involved. "When we don't provide any assistance at point of service in the pharmacy, we typically see 10 to 12 percent of our members take advantage of that option. Where we provide some assistance to the pharmacist at the time the prescription is filled, we see that number move up to as much as 30 percent," he elaborated.
Stephen Miller is an online editor/manager for SHRM.
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