COST SPOTLIGHT: Two Articles Examine Prescription Drug Costs and the Impact of Transparency

The Greenville News reports on a recent AARP survey on prescription drug prices.  The AARP survey examined the costs of 217 brand name drugs and found “the price for drugs about to go off patent in 2010 increased an average of 13.7 percent compared to 8.3 percent for other drugs.”

AHIP’s Robert Zirkelbach is also quoted in the article discussing the impact of the prescription drug price increases on premiums.  Zirkelbach says:

“We’ve seen prescription drug costs going up 7, 8, 9 percent every year. And as the cost of providing medical care increases, premiums increase accordingly.”

And over at the Wall Street Journal’s Health Blog, this article explores a recent study conducted by researchers from Brown University and the University of Miami examining the impact of cost transparency on doctor’s habits of ordering certain tests.

To conduct the study, the researchers “started by monitoring the baseline daily per-patient cost for two common lab tests, complete blood count and total chemistry panel, among surgical patients at Rhode Island Hospital in Providence. Then they started a program of scripted weekly announcements to surgical house staff — the doctors-in-training who order the bulk of the tests — and their attending physicians, about the cost of those tests.”

The findings of the study are nothing short of astonishing — “Over 11 weeks, the total saved was $54,967, though that figure, and the per-patient savings, is based on the sticker price of the tests…”  [The article notes the savings would be lower because of the prices health plans are able to negotiate on behalf of patients.]

What the researchers believe the study shows is that if doctors are equipped with the right information, they will make decisions that not only increase the quality of care that patients receive, but also will save patients money over the long-run.

This entry was posted in AHIP, AHIP in the News, Cost Alert and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.