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Am J Manag Care. 2005 Aug;11(5 Suppl):S170-6.

Reducing patient drug acquisition costs can lower diabetes health claims.

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  • 1Pitney Bowes, Stamford, CT, USA.


Concerned about rising prevalence and costs of diabetes among its employees, Pitney Bowes Inc recently revamped its drug benefit design to synergize with ongoing efforts in its disease management and patient education programs. Specifically, based on a predictive model showing that low medication adherence was linked to subsequent increases in healthcare costs in patients with diabetes, the company shifted all diabetes drugs and devices from tier 2 or 3 formulary status to tier 1. The rationale was that reducing patient out-of-pocket costs would eliminate financial barriers to preventive care, and thereby increase adherence, reduce costly complications, and slow the overall rate of rising healthcare costs. This single change in pharmaceutical benefit design immediately made critical brand-name drugs available to most Pitney Bowes employees and their covered dependents for 10% coinsurance, the same coinsurance level as for generic drugs, versus the previous cost share of 25% to 50%. After 2 to 3 years, preliminary results in plan participants with diabetes indicate that medication possession rates have increased significantly, use of fixed-combination drugs has increased (possibly related to easier adherence), average total pharmacy costs have decreased by 7%, and emergency department visits have decreased by 26%. Hospital admission rates, although increasing slightly, remain below the demographically adjusted Medstat benchmark. Overall direct healthcare costs per plan participant with diabetes decreased by 6%. In addition, the rate of increase in overall per-plan-participant health costs at Pitney Bowes has slowed markedly, with net per-plan-participant costs in 2003 at about 4000 dollars per year versus 6500 dollars for the industry benchmark. This recent moderation in overall corporate health costs may be related to these strategic changes in drug benefit design for diabetes, asthma, and hypertension and also to ongoing enhancements in the company's disease management and wellness programs.

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