Insurers Could Reduce Costs, Prevent Heart Attacks
Health insurers could prevent 4,736 deaths per year from heart-related problems and save $2.5 billion annually in related costs if they fully covered heart medications for patients who have had a heart attack, according to a study published in Health Affairs, the AP/Los Angeles Times reports. Heart medications and cholesterol-lowering drugs can reduce the risk of death from heart disease by an estimated 80%, although they often are underused.
In the study, researchers from Harvard Medical School found that providing full coverage for the medications would cost insurers an average of $550 per patient but would lead to fewer heart attacks, strokes and deaths, saving $1,731 per heart-related event.
The researchers also found that patients would be more compliant with their medication regimens if insurers fully covered the medications rather than requiring the patient to assume a share of the cost. Researchers conservatively estimated that full coverage of cardiac drugs would increase compliance rates from 50% to 63% (Freking, AP/Los Angeles Times, 1/8).