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Saving $425 Billion on Medication

cost compare drugs pricing

The United States spends about $425 billion annually on medication. One could assume we are overmedicated, and we probably are.  So step one in savings might be, check with your doctor to see if you should remain on drugs you are taking. Step two might be, find ways to save money on drugs. Here is one way to do that.

For years my Web development team at work has been developing tools that helps our members figure out how to up drug aherence while at the same time bring down the cost of drugs and health care. Steep order huh? Yeah. I specifically work in the pharmaceutical benefits management industry and so we are always looking at the factors that help in these areas. The assumption is:

  • drug prescription adherence leads to a better quality of life and lowers other related health care costs that can crop up from not directly dealing with health issues, and in some cases reduces the amount of time a person needs help from various prescriptions.
  • there are a number of factors that influence drug costs and health care costs, like drug pricing and drug consumption

We recently launched a tool that is available to our members, allowing them to search their medication history and compare costs for that medication across a number of factors like geographic location, mail order, brand versus generic, costs associated with specific pharmacies, all while displaying the cost to both the member and the total drug cost. The idea here is that members can make more educated decisions about how to competitively acquire drugs at various pharmacies. You might be surprised at the results:

Navitus Cost Compare tool for members

You can see in the above, the tool lets you select yourself, or a dependent under the age of 12, then you can search that members medication history to identify a specific medication, then identify and possibly select in-class brand or generic alternatives to the prescription drug, and setup the drug strength, form and scenario (30 pills over 30 days is the most common). From there you can select your location (you can enter a city and state, or a zipcode, or even let the tool find your location on the planet) and then it goes and finds pharmacies in that search area and displays the specific drug cost based on your specific pharmacy benefits (this isn't based on some generic costing, but on costing specific to the member's benefit and the specific pharmacies on the map). 

For me, I can save something around $25 annually per perscription by using this tool. Thankfully, I don't have a lot going on in terms of medication.  But there are many who are on life saving medication or many prescriptions that could be much cheaper in the aggregate annually. It even shows you the cost for switching over to mail order. As you can see above, if I switch to a 90-day supply I could save the cost of nearly two prescriptions every three months.

For some, you could show them how to save a few dollars each month and it won't be motivation to switch to another pharmacy.  They just prefer the one that matches their current drive home and they aren't motivated to make the effort to switch. This is where the directions feature comes into play to help that motivation a tiny bit.

Google directions from your location

If you click on a pharmacy in the costing table, it highlights that pin on the map. Within the popup on the map pin is a link for directions. Clicking that finds your location again and opens a new window showing you exactly how to get from wherever you are to the new pharmacy location.  The member can change their starting location, or search for public transportation using that same map as well.  We think this should help people make the switch.

For me, I can see the benefit of switching to mail order not only in terms of saving me money personally.  But it saves on the total cost of drugs which should help to lower the cost of health care in the long run. and I won't have to drive anywhere since it will all show up in my mailbox at home.

Pretty niffty tool.

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