Cost-sharing strategies can affect prescription drug use and expenditures in health plans, but reduced medication usage by members and the degree of cost savings are not consistent across all types of health plans, according to a study in Medical Care Research and Review.
The study found that:
- Self-insured plans received a greater benefit from establishing cost-sharing methods than HMOs;
- HMOs had significantly lower per capita drug costs than self-insured plans, mostly because of physician-directed initiatives; and
- When comparing plans with open physician panels and no provider risk sharing, HMO enrollees used about 25% fewer medications than members of self-insured plans.
The researchers concluded that relatively lower levels of cost sharing in conjunction with physician-directed initiatives might be a more effective approach to reducing pharmaceutical costs (Wallack et al., Medical Care Research and Review, February 2007). 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.