This month’s webinar by Dr. Bricker was entitled, “Prescription Cost Roundup: Success and Failures in Stemming Drug Inflation.” During the webinar, he examined some of the ways healthcare consumers can lower medication costs. Human resources and benefits professionals play a key role in educating and inspiring their employees about how to be better healthcare consumers.
- Ask for Generic Medications
When your healthcare provider gives you a prescription, be sure to ask if it’s a generic medication. Generic medications are usually less expensive than their name-brand counterparts. If you learn that the medication is NOT generic, ask more questions. Find out if there is a generic alternative that would also treat your condition. Point out that you might unable to fill your prescription if it becomes too expensive. By explaining your concerns, you could receive a lower-cost alternative that’s still effective.
- Ask if Your Medication is a Combination of Two Medications
There are many “brand name” medications that are a combination of two generic drugs. The only thing that makes them a “brand” is that they are combined into one pill instead of two. These could even be over-the-counter drugs such as ibuprofen and Zantac that are combined into one drug, patented and sold for a much higher price. Your healthcare provider will know if it’s OK to take the two medications separately.
- Ask if There is a Way to Treat Your Condition Without Taking Medications
This is particularly appropriate for upper respiratory tract infections that are mild and typically caused by a virus. If it is an everyday cold (not the flu or pneumonia), antibiotics are not recommended.
Those antibiotics can kill the “good” bacteria in your intestines – the bacteria that are part of a healthy digestive tract.Reducing “good” bacteria can cause a “bad” bacteria called C. Diff to rapidly grow and cause severe diarrhea and abdominal pain. Even though many people go to the doctor asking for a prescription when they have an upper respiratory tract infection, resist the temptation to do so. You’ll end up saving money in the long run.
- If You Are Taking a Chronic Medication, Use Mail Order
Often healthcare consumers don’t know that they can order their medications by mail order, or that it even exists. Mail-order medications usually cost less than going to the pharmacy, avoiding upcharges typically seen at the drug store or grocery store. Also, consumers may not know how to get started with mail order medications – but with some simple education, they can start seeing the benefits right away.
- For Infusion Medications, Choose a Doctor’s Office Rather Than a Hospital/Outpatient Facility
When using Infusion specialty pharmacy medication – have your doctor administer them in his office rather than a hospital or outpatient facility.Infusion medication is very expensive. While it may seem more like a procedure, there are significant costs associated with the medicine itself. By making a small change – receiving medication in the doctor’s office — you’ll see some big differences in cost. This may not be appropriate for all infusion medications, so be sure and ask questions. When patients are being treated for autoimmune diseases such as Crohn’s disease or rheumatoid arthritis, the doctor’s office could be a lower cost choice.
Takeaway for HR and Benefits Professionals
Healthcare consumerism is one of the keys to keeping employee prescription costs low.
Benefits professionals need to keep in mind that part of their job is to inform and inspire employees to take action when working with their healthcare providers.
That’s the cornerstone of the Compass Professional Health Services healthcare navigation services – we help employers and their employees navigate the complicated and costly healthcare landscape.
Want to learn more about how Compass can help your company save money on prescription medication costs? Contact us today!