"ZERO-DOLLAR COPAY" BOOSTS GENERIC USE
Health plans that switch to a "Zero-DollarCopay" system can reduce their prescriptiondrug costs significantly by encouraginggreater use of generic pharmaceuticals,researchers at Express Scripts said. A newstudy released by the pharmacy benefit managementfirm concluded that temporarilywaiving patient copay requirements forlower-cost generic versions will save money for both theinsurer and the patient.
From the patient's perspective, waiving the copay for a 4-to6-month period would yield out-of-pocket savings averagingabout $50 per patient, Express Scripts said. Adding in the savingsthat would accrue to plan sponsors, the researchersestimate that the nation's total drug bill could dropby as much as $22 billion annually by maximizinggeneric usage.
Although those savings are predicated onpatient response to the zero-dollar-copayincentives, Julayna Meyer, the company's vicepresident of research and trend management,says patients are likely to jump on board."Today's health care consumers understand the importance ofmaking a smart choice with regard to prescription drugs andrespond well to the incentive that has been made availablethrough this program," she said.