The prognosis for prescription drug costs in 2017 is not good. Prescription prices are projected to jump 11.6 percent in 2017 for Americans under 65 years old, and increase 9.9% for older Americans. This growth outpaces both the cost of living and wages, which are expected to rise just 2.5 percent this year, in contrast. The data comes from a new report by Segal Consulting.
Hours of congressional investigation into U.S. drug prices have done little to soften the hit to American consumers, and it’s no surprise that four out of five Americans say that drug prices are unreasonable (Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation).
Yet despite the fact that prescription prices can vary widely by pharmacy, 70% of Americans still don’t price shop for healthcare services including prescription drugs.
Rising prices could easily lead to more Americans skipping doses or essential medications altogether; in fact, about one in 10 American adults don’t take their medications as prescribed because of the costs. Add to that narrowing formularies that are increasingly shutting off access to previously covered drugs, and it’s easy to see how consumers are losing both power and ownership of their healthcare. Prescription drugs now account for almost 17% of personal healthcare expenditures.
This is a wake up call for health plan sponsors, who have an obligation and vested interest to help members gain greater ownership of their health. One effective step would be to educate members about drug price variation. But today, less than a third (29%) of plan sponsors offer a price comparison tool in consumer wellness programs.
Do you know whether your members are adhering to their medication requirements as prescribed by their providers? Do you offer them a price comparison tool to pinpoint the lowest-cost sources for their needed medications? If not, now is the time to equip members the health intelligence they need to become better healthcare consumers. This is a critical step in the path to lowering population health costs.
[Photo credit: Casey Fleser via Creative Commons.]