3 Tips to Share With Your Employees to Reduce Drug Costs

By Jim Harenberg, CPBS, VP of Strategic Solutions

While reviewing the results of our 2019 Indiana Employee Benefits Benchmarking Survey and talking one-on-one with clients, I have found that employers often struggle to cover pharmacy costs in their benefits plans – and with good reason. U.S. prescription drug costs have increased substantially in the past few years, and this trend isn’t slowing down any time soon. According to National Health Expenditure data, the U.S. spent 333 billion dollars in prescription drugs in 2017. With drug prices this high, access to medicine is out of reach for many patients. Although medications have become extremely costly, there are some steps you and your employees can take to make prescriptions more affordable.

Help your employees, help themselves

When it comes to purchasing prescription medications, there are some simple ways to reduce costs. Here are a few tips you can immediately share with your employees to help them save money:

Ask your doctor about generics.

Not all drugs will be available generically, but those that are cost significantly less than the brand-name version, an estimated 80 to 85 percent less, according to the FDA. Believe it or not, generic drugs are the same as their brand-name counterparts! Generic and brand-name drugs share the same active ingredient, so even if they differ in color or flavoring, they clinically work the same.

Shop around for the best deals.

As consumers, we comparison shop – checking out discount websites and looking for coupons for clothes, groceries, appliances and many other purchases. Why don’t we do the same when shopping for medications? Think of your prescriptions as an investment. For prescription drugs, shopping around could mean calling local pharmacies to check the price of your prescription. It could mean using online resources to find the lowest prices near you, such as, GoodRx or Blink Health. Sometimes these websites even have downloadable coupons for a percentage off your purchase. Researching different places to buy your prescriptions will help ensure you’re getting the best price for your medicine.

Ask your pharmacist.

Communication is key to understanding your insurance and how it can work best for you. Your pharmacist will know if it’s cheaper to pay cash for a medicine instead of using insurance and paying the copay. Pharmacists might be able to find a way to lower the cost to keep you as a satisfied patient – offering a coupon for instance.

Another part of keeping pharmacy costs down for your employees includes assessing the benefits you offer. You may need to look beyond the three cost saving tactics above to identify new, innovative ways to manage costs. Would you like help evaluating your pharmacy benefits program or finding ways to control costs for you and your employees? Contact us.

Download this infographic as an easy reference to educate your employees and help them pay less for medicine.