Cheaper medicine saves employers big bucks, study finds

Andrew Freiburghouse | January 12, 2011

Oftentimes, it's what you do before you are sick that can really make the difference. A new study published by the health policy journal Health Affairs takes this concept a step further, noting that prevention can save companies money, according to a Los Angeles Times report.

When one company lowered the co-pay on medications for treating chronic diseases, employees were far more likely to take the medication regularly, according to the Health Affairs study. Employees regularly taking medication ended up in the hospital less frequently and were subject to fewer disability claims, the study said. The company studied noted that for every $1 it spent on an employee's chronic condition medication, most notably medication for diabetes, it saved $1.33 through lower overall health care costs. In other words, if a patient can afford medicine, they are more likely to take their medicine.

The Health Affairs study follows closely on a report in the Journal of General Medicine, which noted that between 28 percent and 31 percent of new prescriptions are never filled, according to Reuters. Cost is the No. 1 reason prescriptions go unfilled, while others went unfilled because patients didn't understand the purpose of the medication. If employers and health insurance companies realize that getting needed medications to employees will save money in the long run, co-pays might start to drop. Spread the word: you can save your boss money if you can afford to take your medications.

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