Prescription costs

Prescription costs

Prescription costs are a common health care cost for many people and also the source of considerable economic hardship for some. These costs are sometimes referred to as out-of-pocket prescription costs, since for those with insurance, the total cost of their prescriptions may include expenses covered by a third party, such as an insurance company, as well as the individual. Out-of-pocket prescription costs include deductibles, co-payments, and upper limits in coverage.

During the past decade, prescription costs have been the most rapidly growing sector of health care spending in the United States. These increases, which have averaged 12% growth during some years, are accounted for by increases in the number of drugs per person (treatment intensification), increases in the cost of a “market-basket” of drugs (price inflation), and increases in the use of newer drugs over older, less costly, alternatives [http://www.kaiseredu.org/topics_im.asp?id=352&parentID=68&imID=1] . Overall, experts estimate that treatment intensification has increased by 68% and price inflation has increased by 8.3% between 1994 and 2004.

A substantial body of evidence has documented the association between high out-of-pocket costs and many types of economic and non-economic hardship. Between 20%-30% of patients in the United States report having skipped or stretched a prescription medicine during the previous 12 months because of the costs. Other patients report cutting back on payments for their utilities or food in order to afford their prescription medicines.

There are several barriers that prevent greater patient-provider communication about these costs [http://prescriptions.bsd.uchicago.edu/] . Patients may be embarrassed to raise their concerns, concerned that doing so may compromise their quality of care, or under the impression that there is nothing that their health care provider can do to help. Providers may also be embarrassed discussing costs, and feel too much time pressure to discuss these costs with patients.

Pill Splitting

Many pill-form drugs are produced in several different dosages. For example, a medicine may be prescribed at a 25mg or a 50mg dose. Some medicines can be prescribed at a higher dose and then the tablets can be split in two. High-dose pill are generally priced the same as or slightly higher than their low-dose counterparts. Not all pills can be split, since some come as time release capsules or require very precise dosing, so as with all potential methods of savings, it is best to discuss the safety of this with your doctor and pharmacist. Pill splitting

Generic Brands

Generic drugs are much less expensive than brand-name drugs. Despite this, many people mistakenly think that generics are less effective or less safe than a brand name drug. Once a drug is developed, it is sold as a brand name drug for several years, and then it can be sold as a generic drug too. Generic drug

90-day Supply

Drugs are available in a three-month supply, instead of a one-month supply. The bulk order is considerably cheaper than the 30 day supply options.

Stopping medicines that may no longer be neededTaking a prescription medicine may be so routine that a someone continues to take it even when it is no longer unnecessary. However, many medicines may not be needed lifelong.

Multiple Pharmacies

One reason that people pay different prices for the same prescription medication (aside from varying insurance policies) is varying pharmacies. There are several government and commercial websites that will compare the prices at different pharmacies for the exact same medication and dosage.

Wal-Mart pioneered bringing prescription costs down to a uniform $4 [3] . While their inventory of prescription drugs certainly excludes many important medications, they still claim to provide 300 drugs for this affordable price. Critics claim that of the 300 drugs, less than half are actually different kinds, the other half being different dosages of the same thing [4] .

Target followed suit in some locations soon after Wal-Mart launched their health care initiative [3] . Recently, in 2008, Dominick's has also begun to provide prescription drugs for four dollars [7] . While these big chain departmental stores are providing accessible, affordable medication, even the medications they don’t provide can possibly found for cheaper rates depending on the pharmacy they are purchased at.

References

* Kaiser Family Foundation [http://www.kaiseredu.org/topics_im.asp?id=352&parentID=68&imID=1]
* Talk to Your Doctor [http://prescriptions.bsd.uchicago.edu/]
* Wal-Mart Pharmacy [http://www.walmart.com/catalog/catalog.gsp?cat=546834]
* Wal-Mart critics [http://www.wakeupwalmart.com/press/20061019a.html]
* Target follows suit [http://www.consumeraffairs.com/news04/2006/09/walmart_target_drugs.html]
* Dominick’s Pharmacy [http://www.dominicks.com/shop/rx_generics_dom.pdf]

External links

* Target’s pharmacy [http://sites.target.com/site/en/health/page.jsp?contentId=PRD03-004033]
* Polypharmacy [http://prescriptions.bsd.uchicago.edu/Polypharmacy/]

Related Articles

* Prescription Drug
* Pill splitting
* Generic drug


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