Helping Patients Cope with Medication Costs

The California HealthCare Foundation has released Rx for Affordability: Helping Patients Cope with Medication Costs. Financial concerns are a major reason for non-adherence, but patients rarely tell physicians they can’t afford medications and physicians rarely ask.

This isn’t exactly surprising considering neither the patient nor the physician is likely to know the price anyway. The price depends on the patient’s specific formulary, co-pay, and deductible arrangements –information that is not readily available in the physician office setting. Patients usually find out what a drug will cost when they pick it up.

The report suggests certain general rules, such as encouraging generic prescribing, pill splitting, and being wary about getting patients started on free samples of expensive drugs. Those are reasonable first steps, but new information tools will be required before physicians and patients can really have a proper conversation on this topic.

November 2, 2005

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