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Monitor Your Meds: Manage Health Insurance Costs Posted: May 21st, 2010

By Lisa Tortorello

Lisa Tortorello has been a Director of Public Relations and Marketing within a large East Coast health care system for more than 10 years. She has an associate's degree in Liberal Arts and a bachelor's degree in Public Communication.

The American health care system spends an astonishing $300 billion dollars every year because patients do not take their prescription medications correctly, according to CVS Caremark, a pharmacy health care provider in the United States. The result is a chain reaction of increased symptoms, which can lead to unnecessary doctor visits, avoidable hospital stays and higher health care costs--each of which chip away at our chances to obtain cheap medical insurance.

You know what you are supposed to do to stay healthy, but for some reason many do not adhere to prescription instructions. In an effort to help you stay on track, CVS Caremark explored three different methods pharmacy benefit managers can explore to increase medication compliance and lower drug costs.

  1. Interactive Voice Response (IVR) Programs. Among other features, IVR systems allow pharmacies to use the telephone to remind its customers that it is time for a prescription refill, and in some cases, directly refills that prescription. CVS Caremark utilized IVR technology to reach more than 94,000 commercially-insured mail pharmacy users. The results showed that those who received phone messages were 70.6 percent more likely to refill their medication than those who had not received a call.
  2. Fax Alerts. A second study used fax alerts to physician offices to reminder doctors of recommended therapies for patients with conditions such as osteoporosis, high blood pressure and diabetes. The results showed that members whose doctors received the faxes were more likely to refill prescriptions than those whose doctors did not to receive faxes.
  3. Go Generic. A third study waived co-pays on generic drugs to encourage members taking brand medications to switch to the less costly alternative. Members who made the change early in the six-month study period received two co-pay waivers, while those who waited until the end of the six-months received only one waiver. The study found that 88.2 percent of members who changed early on stayed with the generic drug, while only 71.7 percent of those who switched later continued with the generic version of their medication.

The bottom line: Not taking medications as prescribed is a detriment to both your health and your wallet.