Employers do all they can to keep their employees' health insurance and health care outlays to a minimum. And while most of the effort is focused on the upfront cost of insurance, copays and deductibles, employers are now trying to help their employees control the very costs they actually have the most control over - and one of those areas is prescription medication.
Helping employees become wise consumers of health services may also reduce overall insurance costs, as well as help employees conserve more of their own funds if they have high copays and deductibles.
The cost of drugs can vary greatly between pharmacies. And while your employees may have low copays for some drugs, if they go to the most expensive option when the insurance is covering the tab, it basically adds to the cost drivers for your insurance plan.
Here's how significant the price swings can be. Consumer Reports magazine recently surveyed pharmacies to price out a basket of five popular generic prescription drugs. Here is what they paid:
It pays to shop around from store to store and ask for discounts. "A Rite Aid store near our headquarters in Yonkers, N.Y., was able to get the price of atorvastatin, the generic version of Lipitor, down to just $18 from $300 through a combination of in-store and external discount programs," the report states. "But at another Rite Aid, we were told the cost could only be lowered to $127."
Consumer Reports recommends that employees:
Consumer Reports recommends that once someone settles on a pharmacy that consistently gives them good deals on pharmaceuticals; they should fill all of their prescriptions there. That way, it's easier for them to spot "potentially dangerous interactions and other safety concerns."
If employees notice their pharmacy bills start rising noticeably, it may be time for them to start shopping around again. Reviewing costs regularly will help to identify whether prescription costs are starting to creep up.
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