Bending the Cost Curve: Improving Medication Adherence

It may not seem obvious to most, but NOT taking your medication contributes to one of the largest reasons for increased national health care costs.  According to the a 2011 NEHI study, improving patient medication adherence could reduce wasteful spending by $290 Billion.  Of the 187 million Americans taking one or more prescriptions, it is estimated one-half do not take medications as prescribed.

Not taking medication costs over $100 billion in excess hospitalizations.   The most expensive offenders are diabetics and hypertension patients.  A non adherent diabetic spends more than twice as much one that properly manages their disease as instructed.  They also run a 30 percent chance of hospitalization each year compared to 13 percent by their adherent counterpart.

Poor adherence to medication occurs for many reasons.  High out of pockets costs, lack of care coordination and follow up as well as co-morbidities such as severe or persistent mental illness.   Often medications are not taken as prescribed simply due to lifestyle, culture and belief systems.

Solutions revolve around improving care coordination and enhancing patient engagement and education.  With the rapid increase and improvement in the area of HIT (Health Information Technology), managed care programs have really jumped on the bandwagon agressively by reaching out to high risk members to ensure medication adherence and education.   At a very minimum, we see all insurers offering assistance through programs for patients that want to participate responsibly toward better health.

In the end, each individual must become responsible for themself in this area of medication adherence.   We must spread the word that not doing so will continue to escalate the rise in health care costs.

About Paula L Wilson, RHU, REBC

Insurance and Employee Benefits, business owner, wife, mother, grandmother. Specializing in Employee Benefits, Personal Life, Disability and Long Term Care Insurance. Registered Health Underwriter, Registered Employee Benefit Consultant, Past President Orange County Association of Health Underwriters 1991, Past Vice President California Association of Health Underwriters, Past Legislative Chair of the National Association of Health Underwriters. Recipient of the Provencio Award for Excellence and Leading Producer Roundtable Award Recipient View all posts by Paula L Wilson, RHU, REBC

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