Forgetting to take necessary medications and shunning generics are two ways consumers are helping drive up our country's health-care costs. A new report from pharmacy-benefit manager Express Scripts shows that common behaviors related to prescription drugs lead to $163 billion in wasteful spending each year. More specifically, according to a release, we spend:
- $106 billion from medical costs of non-adherence to therapy.
- $51 billion in missed opportunities related to lower-cost medication alternatives, both brand and generic.
- $6 billion in missed opportunities related to lower-cost options for delivery of medications
The report is the first to link consumer spending to both market forces and behavioral factors, and the findings demonstrate that billions of dollars could be saved if patients change their habits. Steven Miller, MD, senior vice president and chief medical officer at Express Scripts, sounded a hopeful note in the release:
"The good news is that these potential savings in the pharmacy benefit are tied to one of the few variables in healthcare we can readily influence: behavior," [he] said... "This research shows that in terms of achieving lower costs and improved outcomes, healthcare reform starts in the home."
Miller added, "If we optimized every individual's behavior relating to prescription drugs, we could achieve savings that in five years would cover the projected costs of the recently passed national healthcare reform legislation."
The report can be downloaded here.