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Researchers propose consumers buy yearly 'drug licenses' as new way to pay for prescriptions
Date:1/22/2008

Changing the way consumers pay for prescription drugs so that the system more closely resembles paying for cell phones or computer software could increase drug use without altering patients out-of-pocket spending, health plan costs or drug company profits, according to a new RAND Corporation study.

Researchers propose that consumers pay an annual license fee that would entitle them to a years worth of medicine for each prescription they take on an ongoing basis, with a very small or no co-payment for each monthly supply.

Such a system could be used to pay for medicines that treat chronic conditions such as high cholesterol, diabetes or asthma without increasing the cost to consumers and may reduce the periods when patients go without such medicines because of the cost, according to a study published in the journal Health Affairs.

We propose a fundamentally new way for consumers to pay for medicines that are taken for long periods of time to treat chronic health conditions, said Dana Goldman, corporation chair in health economics and director of the Bing Center for Health Economics at RAND, a nonprofit research organization. We believe this approach can help improve patient care without costing anyone more money.

Researchers suggest that a pilot study be organized with the cooperation of health insurers and drug manufacturers to test the benefits of the proposal.

The two-part pricing scheme outlined by researchers is used to pay for products in many areas outside the medical world. Payments for Internet service, cable and satellite television, all-you-can-eat buffets and country club memberships are all examples of the pricing plan. Consumers pay a set fee to cover a period of time, with unlimited access to the services. Consumers can use as much or as little as they need.

Maybe the best example of the pricing plan is computer software, researchers say. Instead of paying a fee every time a computer is turn
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Contact: Warren Robaik
robak@rand.org
310-451-6913
RAND Corporation
Source:Eurekalert

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