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The Real Cost Of Prescription Drugs

The Real Cost Of Prescription Drugs

Posted: July 11, 2016

By Dr. Tim Bartholow, WEA Trust Chief Medical Officer

The real cost of drugs isn't always paid at the pharmacy

Oftentimes, the real cost of prescription drugs is in the price of misuse and noncompliance. As a nation, we're failing to comply with medication prescriptions for a variety of reasons -- and it's costing us anywhere between $100 billion to $289 billion a year.² Beyond the monetary costs, imagine how misusing prescription medication can affect your quality of life.

For 20-30% of the cases nationwide, prescriptions are simply never filled -- and up to 5% of medications aren't taken as prescribed.² Wisconsin isn't an outlier.

Meds, misuse, mistakes and more

Why so much misuse and waste?

Well, it's a combo of everything from patients not understanding the directions, to affordability issues, to fear. Some folks are just plain afraid to take the very meds designed to help them live.

It can also be because life changes, and as we move through the healthcare system --from family doc to hospital to specialists -- the chance for drug error increases. 

Are you escalating the cost of your care?

When we don't do the basics, like follow instructions, we can end up on a more intense treatment -- one that could have been avoided.

Take arthritis for example. Many rheumatoid arthritis patients don't properly adhere to the first treatments and meds. Next thing they know, they're on an expensive biologic, such as Enbrel, Humira or Remicade -- all hugely expensive (though effective) drugs that dramatically increases their chance of developing an infection.

According to one study, patients who didn't adhere to their doctors' medication guidance experienced complications that cost an estimated $105 billion in annual -- and avoidable -- health care costs.³ 

To reclaim healthcare, we've got to come to terms with these quality and affordability issues. 

What can you do?

Whether you're taking care of yourself or an aging parent, here's my best piece of advice about prescription drugs:

Keep an accurate and updated list of all meds, and share it with all of your providers--caregivers, docs, specialist, your pharmacist, loved ones--and do it today.

On top of this, how and why you take your meds is as important as which ones you take. This applies to all forms of medication: pills, sprays, puffers, patches, ointments, supplements, etc. So if you don't understand your meds, or don't like the way they make you feel, talk to your doctor. 

Our no-cost “Value Choice Drug Plan”

Not everyone can afford the meds they need. That's a problem. 

At the Trust, we prefer to be part of the solution, which is why we offer a long list of drugs of high value to members at no cost. It's one way we can help eliminate the barriers between patients and their treatments. 

Choosing from our Value Choice Drug Plan is cost-effective, and the process of filling your meds is easy

Till then, take good care of yourself.


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