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Doctors, Patients, and Smartphone Apps

With the price of prescription drugs skyrocketing, more and more doctors are wondering, “How much will the drugs I’m prescribing end up costing the patient?”

According to Truveris data, over the last five years, patient copays have increased over 90%, and they continue to rise as insurers shift costs to the patient. More patients are moving to high deductible health plans and must spend more before their insurance starts to cover costs. “Unfortunately, 70% of plan members don’t ever meet their deductible and pay 100% of the cost of the drug.”

“With these high costs,” the author notes, patients are left to either pay up or let their prescriptions go unfilled. “In order to afford drugs, patients are asking pharmacists about cheaper options or postponing the payment of other bills.” Alarmingly, the high cost of drugs is making it more difficult for Americans to afford other medical care—even as they cut corners with their medications and avoid the doctor’s office.

The author recommends four ways that doctors can help their patients save money on prescriptions, but short of “Be more proactive and ensure that what you prescribe is covered by their insurance plan,” which may or may not be possible for many providers, the best advice may be “explore new technology that empowers patients to find the cheapest drugs.”

“Smartphone apps like OneRx help patients compare drug prices and determine what they’ll pay out of pocket, while aggregating available coupons and discounts.” The author is an advisor to OneRx, and he’s not wrong, but empowering the patient in this way often puts their self-funded employer at the mercy of Big Pharma. Indeed, drug companies love to use coupons and discounts to push expensive drugs.


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