Doctors are more concerned about out-of-pocket costs for patients when prescribing drugs than they are about total medication costs, a study in the American Journal of Managed Care found.
For the study researchers surveyed 1,200 members of the California Medical Association from June 2003 through December 2003.
The authors found that:
- When prescribing equally effective drugs, 91% of physicians agreed it is "important" to minimize patients' out-of-pocket costs, and 5% disagreed;
- More than 80% of physicians agreed it is important to try to minimize total costs when prescribing equally effective drugs, and 8% disagreed; and
- 59% of doctors said they are more concerned about managing patients' out-of-pocket costs than managing total costs when prescribing equally effective medicines, 16% disagreed and 25% neither agreed nor disagreed.
The study found that tiered, incentive-based pharmacy designs could benefit health plans in part because such designs align the fiscal interests of health plans with patients' out-of-pocket costs. The authors write that insurers' efforts to control prescription drug costs likely will be more effective by educating physicians about patient's out-of-pocket costs than informing physicians about total medication costs (Shrank et al., American Journal of Managed Care, September 2006). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.