Employers Satisfied with Pharmacy Benefits, Concerned with Drug Costs

A majority of employers believe private companies could lower costs more efficiently than federal laws.

A recent survey found that employers are typically very satisfied with drug benefits they are able to provide for their employees, but are concerned with high drug prices.

The survey also found that employers think that private sector solutions may be more effective than government solutions in lowering drug prices, according to a press release from the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA). The study, conducted by North Star Opinion Research and published by PCMA, included survey responses from executives and owners of 400 businesses of varying sizes.

Prescription drug costs are a worry for many Americans, as many pharmaceutical companies have created savings programs, rebates, and other discounts to attempt to offer patients some relief from high out-of-pocket costs. Concerns with costs are something that affects executives as well.

Approximately 54% of respondents reported that reducing prescription drug costs was their top concern with pharmacy benefits. Reducing out-of-pocket costs was the top concern for 45% of executives, making it the second highest concern of those surveyed.

However, 90% of executives said they are satisfied with their existing pharmacy benefits. Those who provide employees with mail service pharmacy options reported higher satisfaction, according to the study.

Among the 67% of executives who offer mail service pharmacy options, 95% of their employees are satisfied with the services they receive. Additionally, approximately 95% of respondents reported satisfaction with the company that manages their plans.

Managing benefits for employees was important to the employers, as well. More than half of employers reported that private companies, rather than federal measures, would be able to better manage prescription drug benefits by a 70% to 31% margin, according to the study.

A majority (60%) of the executives said that new federal regulations would raise prescription drug prices, rather than lower them like they intended. Only 18% said that the regulations would accomplish their goal and reduce costs, while 22% said the regulations would not affect costs at all.

“Employers' concerns about high drug prices are real but so are their fears that new government mandates — however well intended – would make things worse,” said PCMA President and CEO Mark Merritt. “They believe the answers lie in the private sector.”

Regarding increased drug costs, 56% of executives said that drug companies were the cause, while the other 44% believe that health insurers were mostly responsible. The findings suggest that exploring novel options and reducing federal cost-controlling regulations may be an efficient way to lower drug costs.