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Employee Involvement Is Key to Long-Term Pharmacy Cost Control, Finds Buck Consultants Survey
Date:8/13/2008

37%) of respondents say pharmacy benefits represent between 16 percent and 20 percent of total health care costs,” said Jacobs. “Another 29 percent indicate pharmacy benefits are more than 21 percent of total health plan costs.”

When asked about the strengths and weaknesses of their current pharmacy benefit programs, the respondents cited “easy pharmacy network access” and “comprehensive formulary” as the top strengths, and “complete disclosure of manufacturer revenue” and “complete disclosure of all costs” as major weaknesses.

Benefits and Cost Management Strategies

According to the survey respondents, the most important clinical management steps they are taking to control pharmacy benefit costs are disease management, care management and smoking cessation programs.

“In terms of long-term cost control strategies, employers plan on heavy employee involvement,” said Jacobs.

The survey found that the following top the list of strategic initiatives for long-term cost management:
· Providing employees with tools and information
· Providing employee education
· Worksite wellness and health activities.

Specialty Drugs

Fifty-two percent of survey respondents believed that specialty medications – complex drugs that are often injected or infused – represent 10 percent or less of their total pharmacy costs. However, a full 28 percent of respondents didn’t know their relative spend on these expensive drugs.

“Managing these specialty drugs will be key to future cost containment strategies for employers,” said Jacobs. “And it’s interesting that, when asked which tools are used to manage specialty medication therapies, less than 10 percent mentioned either ‘discontinuation of unsuccessful therapy,’ ‘payer communication’ or ‘f
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