A Role for Medicines in Reducing Health Costs

A Role for Medicines in Reducing Health Costs

07.28.11 | By

Yesterday, we were talking about a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) that found that proper use of prescription medicines by Part D beneficiaries is helping to reduce non-drug medical expenditures in Medicare overall. The core of the JAMA study:

"The implementation of Medicare Part D was followed by significant reductions in nondrug medical spending, particularly on acute and postacute care, for elderly Medicare beneficiaries with limited prior drug coverage. The economic and clinical benefits suggested by these reductions may be enhanced by further expansions in prescription drug coverage for seniors, improvements in benefit designs for drug-sensitive conditions, and policies that integrate Medicare payment and delivery systems across drug and nondrug services."

Now, there are lots of reasons this is important. The biggest news according to JAMA is that Medicare Part D beneficiaries are getting and adhering to the medicines they need and as a result are simply making fewer demands on more expensive health care services.

These promising findings are particularly interesting in light of a new report just released by CMS. According to CMS, the nation's health care tab is on track to hit $4.6 trillion in 2020, accounting for about $1 of every $5 in the economy. The report appears to be a warning signal about how projected healthcare costs could adversely affect our economy as well as our health.

However, what is increasingly clear from both the JAMA study and the preceding studies it cites is that access to medicines can and is playing a big role in helping Medicare Part D beneficiaries avoid some big healthcare costs like hospitalizations, long-term care, etc. In short, along with prevention, early intervention and sound medical management, the proper use of medicines can play a critical role in reducing healthcare costs and helping solve our future healthcare challenges.

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