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Health Care Now Costs More Than a Family’s Annual Grocery Budget

  • June 19, 2013
  • RPh on the Go

The costs of health care are rising at an exponential rate. Even though employers offer health insurance, the cost of services and benefits continues to rise. Those who have insurance through their employer find themselves facing a 6.2% increase in costs–up to $22,030 a year out of pocket. Employers are pushing more costs onto their employees, and burdening them with costs of caring for their health that were taken care of by employers in the past.

The Affordable Care Act signed by President Obama aims to help people regain some control over their health care dollars by linking many private insurance companies such as Aetna and Blue Cross with Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs). These ACOs ensure that Medicare patients will not lose access to medical care for chronic conditions, and have many more benefits.

The cost of insurance co-pays and payroll deductions alone now averages $9,144 annually. Pharmacies can help their patients with these costs by suggesting generic medications where applicable, and encouraging patients to apply with brand name drug manufacturers for prescription assistance if qualified. Making sure that patients stick to a medicine regime and adhere to a schedule is also a way to help customers avoid costly health care pitfalls. Missing medication or stopping it altogether can lead to side effects, possible hospitalization, or more serious complications. Stressing that adherence to a medication schedule can keep patients out of the hospital is something that all pharmacy staff should make people on complicated medication regimes–or their caregivers–aware of.

If your local pharmacy offers a rewards program for filling prescriptions, or a loyalty program, recommending this to your customers is also helpful. Doing so can save your clients money on refills, emergency medication, and more. If patients are filling their prescriptions at multiple pharmacies, suggest they transfer all their medications to your facility to save time and money. Be sure that staff members are trained to offer advice on over the counter medications, generic alternatives, and even natural remedies that can accompany a prescription medication or be offered as an alternate treatment. Some insurers will cover testing supplies for those with diabetes with a written prescription, and pharmacists should take care to mention this to clients who are buying diabetic testing supplies out of pocket. Brand name medications may also offer coupons on their products, enabling customers to save up to $50 a month on some prescriptions. Finding coupons for these medicines is simple online, although generic medication coupons generally do not exist. Pharmacists should suggest to customers filling brand name prescriptions that they check their provider’s website for any possible savings to be had via coupon.

What tips has your pharmacy passed along to customers hoping to offset their health care costs? Share your tips in the comments below.

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