Reducing health care costs is a team effort

There are several different scenarios that I can think of in the past four years of pharmacy school that exhibit the high cost of prescription health care.  Prescription medications are constantly becoming more expensive.  Patients are unaware of their prescription benefits and how prescription insurance works.  It leads to a lot of frustration for pharmacies and patients on a daily basis.  However, every now and then there is something that we as pharmacy staff can do to help patients with the cost of their care.

I recall one particular instance when I was working at a retail pharmacy.  A woman came in to pick up her daughter’s medication.  I saw the price of the medication and asked the woman if she was sure she wanted it.  She then proceeded to tell me that her daughter had a rare disease and had tried every other medication that was indicated for this disease.  Their insurance company was not pleased with this medication’s cost.  They decided that they would no longer cover the medication at all.  Before this particular day, the prescription medication was covered partially by the insurance company and the patient only had to pay $50 as a co-payment per month.

The woman was concerned about her daughter.  She asked the pharmacist who was on duty about other options and they did not come up with any new medications that the woman’s daughter had not tried.  We then formulated an idea.  The medication that the daughter was supposed to get came in two different strengths.  We discovered that the lower strength had a coupon card and if we just doubled the tablets taken per dose that we could save this woman some money.  Needless to say, the woman was very thankful for the cost savings as it was still very expensive compared to the smaller $50 co-payment per month.

Overall, the cost of care is rising across the board in terms of health care.  As a health care team, we are going to have to try to find cost savings as much as we can while providing quality care.  We have to figure out how to better use our resources and personnel to help patients.  While it is a task that we may not feel comfortable doing, it is something that we must do in order to be successful.

I have made it my personal responsibility to always search for a way to help patients save money while maintaining the highest quality of care.  Whether it be letting them know who carries that particular medication as a $4 per month prescription or calling the doctor to come up with an alternative medication, I am committed to helping patients in any way that I can.  This is because I know that patients will not achieve their health goals unless they are taking their mediation appropriately.  Patients will not take their medication if it cost them too much to obtain it.

I believe that it is the duty of the entire health care team to work together to come up with solutions to meet the needs of our patients so that they can achieve their health goals in an affordable way.

Megan Sanders-Sneller is a pharmacy student.


This post originally appeared on the Costs of Care Blog. Costs of Care is a 501c3 nonprofit that is transforming American health care delivery by empowering patients and their caregivers to deflate medical bills. Follow us on Twitter @costsofcare.

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