Study finds higher drug costs
CHICAGO (Reuters) - Pushing more of the cost of prescription drugs onto
consumers causes patients to cut back, sometimes with adverse health
consequences, according to a review of two decades worth of studies
published on Tuesday.
Such devices as higher co-payments, monthly limits and benefit caps are
"associated with lower rates of drug treatment, worse adherence among
existing users, and more frequent discontinuation of therapy," said the
report from RAND, Santa Monica, California.
"For each 10 percent increase in cost sharing, prescription drug
spending decreases by 2 percent to 6 percent, depending on class of
drug and condition of the patient," added the study published in the
Journal of the American Medical Association.
For some chronic conditions such as congestive heart failure, high
cholesterol, diabetes, schizophrenia and perhaps asthma, higher cost
sharing seems to result in increased use of medical services, such as
visits to emergency rooms or hospitals, the report said.
The findings were based on a review of 132 studies done on the topic
between 1985 and 2006.
"These findings make benefit design an important public health tool for
improving population health. The challenge for public and private plans
is to make patients more sensitive to the cost of treatment without
encouraging them to forego cost-effective care," the study concluded.