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Lower co-pays can lead to lower health care costs, study says Posted: February 1st, 2011

By Maryalene LaPonsie

Companies that use a 'value-based insurance design' can lower their overall health care costs. That is the finding of a three-year study conducted in Florida. In exchange for lowering co-payment amounts, companies participating in the study earned a $1.33 return for every dollar invested in lowering employee out-of-pocket costs.

The study was commissioned by the Florida Health Care Coalition (FHCC) and ran from 2006-2009. It focused on diabetes management and lowered pharmacy costs by 10 percent for those in the study group. A second group that did not receive the lowered pharmacy costs was also monitored. Both groups were enrolled in a disease-management program.

After the end of the first year, medication adherence among the study group was 3.8 percent higher than that of the control group. By the end of the entire study, that number had risen to 6.5 percent. In other words, those patients who had lowered out-of-pocket costs were more likely to take their medication as prescribed.

In a statement, Becky Cherney, FHCC president and CEO said, "amid soaring health-care costs…an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure…That's especially true where it often hurts most, in our pocketbooks." The full results of the study are being published in this month's issue of the Health Affairs journal.