Studies have shown that an increasing number of Americans are deserting their medical prescriptions, in large part because of higher out-of-pocket costs. Now new research is showing that - perhaps not surprisingly - reducing or eliminating co-pays may be an effective way to ensure patients take their medication.
As reported by NPR's Shots, Pitney Bowes, a large Fortune 500 company, eliminated its employees' co-pay for statins, which lower cholesterol, and for Plavix, a drug to prevent blood clots. And:
By removing the copays, which averaged about $24 a month for the statins and $17 for the Plavix, the company was able to raise the number of days the drugs were taken by about 3 percent for statins and 4 percent for Plavix.
The improvements in adherence to prescriptions seem modest. But they're big enough for the authors of the paper, published in the latest issue of the policy journal Health Affairs, to conclude that the "findings support the adoption of this strategy" by lots of other insurers and companies.
Getting more people to follow their doctor's orders could obviously help to improve health. And enticing more consumers to take their medication could also, perhaps, reduce our country's health-care costs. A recent study (link to .pdf) showed that consumers who don't take their medications as prescribed leads to $106 billion in (unnecessary) medical costs.