Only 10 percent of people under 65 went without a prescription in 2003, according to a news release from the nonprofit Center for Studying Health System Change. There are a number of reasons for the growth of people going without prescriptions, according to Laurie E. Felland, a senior health researcher at the center and lead author of the study:
- Rising drug prices
- The tendency of physicians to prescribe drugs more frequently
- The introduction of expensive new specialty medications
- skimpier drug coverage that shifts a greater share of costs onto patients
E-Prescribing may help reverse the trend. The number of doctors who use the Internet to submit patient prescriptions to pharmacies has doubled over the past year to 12 percent. Experts hope that Internet prescriptions, or e-prescriptions, will lower patient wait times, reduce errors and decrease costs for doctors and patients.
The Obama administration's plan to invest $50 billion over five years to encourage broader adoption of health-information technology is expected to include additional incentives for electronic prescribing, according to the Wall Street Journal.
What Does this Mean for Wellness Professionals?
- Help employees manage prescription costs: Make sure they know about the programs their insurance carrier offers, such as pill-splitting, using mail-order for long-term prescriptions and using generics whenever it's medically recommended.
- Consider offering drug-cost-control sessions at health fairs, during open season or as part of your regular wellness program.
- Make sure employees are taking advantage of payment plans like health spending accounts, which let them get some tax benefits for their out of pocket drug expenses.