It’s not a question many of
us are used to asking. It doesn’t roll off the tongue and we are not inclined
to second guess our physicians. The doctor writes a prescription for a pricey
new medication; who are we to even think there might be an alternative?
We are employers, employees
and consumers and the more questions we ask the more likely we are to save
money. Generic drugs cost less with savings frequently resulting in lower
co-payments. Prescription drug costs are one of the fastest growing segments of
realized at the consumer level will help individuals and employers.
The good news is that
employees are looking for ways to reduce out of pocket costs and are becoming
more comfortable asking for prescription choices. Watson Wyatt survey results reported
last week showed that 46% of employees chose a lower cost drug option, an
increase from 42% in 2007. The good news
was tempered by the disturbing trend of 17% of respondents admitting that they
had not filled a prescription, or skipped medicine doses. This too big number
is a big jump from the 13% who supplied the same answer in 2007.
This mixed news provides communication opportunities for employers. Team up with your health care and
prescription provider to publicize the availability and cost savings of using
generics or other less expensive prescriptions. Many providers will be happy to
furnish mailings, posters and content for newsletter articles. Education and
information about the long term health and cost consequences of skipping or
reducing medication will also be valuable.
Communication does not have
to imply that generics are the only option. There are times when the name brand
will be most effective or show different results. Establishing and encouraging
the mindset of asking and checking for choices goes a long way towards helping
to control costs.
Providing employees with
tools to effectively use their benefits minimizes frustration and improves
satisfaction. The right information can persuade an employee to fill that
prescription and save money elsewhere. Strong benefits communications are a
great way to wish employees a truly happy and healthy New Year.