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Health Care Consumerism: Connecting Patients to More Affordable Care
This is the second post in our three-part “Health Care Consumerism” series looking at how patients are increasingly managing their own health care decisions. With the expansion of high-deductible health plans (HDHPs), patients seek greater transparency, affordability and convenience as they consider what options work best for their budgets and health care needs. This series examines some of the key trends in health care consumerism and how CVS Health is working to empower patients and improve their health care experiences.
The Impact of Out-of-Pocket Costs on Affordability
Annual out-of-pocket (OOP) health care costs can be significant for many patients. In 2016, OOP health spending among consumers grew by nearly four percent – representing the highest increase since 2007.i And today more than half of Americans report that they worry “a great deal” about the cost and availability of their health care.ii
At CVS Health, we recognize the importance of helping patients access the medicines and care they need without breaking their budgets or sacrificing health quality. Improving health care affordability means delivering tools and solutions that allow patients to easily find lower-cost treatments and reliable care that fits into their lifestyles.
Promoting Access to More Affordable Medicines
Through our millions of touchpoints with patients at the pharmacy counter every day, we know that rising drug prices continue to be a challenge for many consumers. That is why we’re doing our part to ensure patients can access the medicines they need at the lowest cost possible.
We offer innovative solutions that make it easier for patients to save money on their prescription drugs, starting at the point of prescribing and culminating at the pharmacy counter. These include:
- Visibility into individuals’ specific benefits and costs to help patients, prescribers and pharmacists make the most informed choices about medication options;
- Point-of-sale (POS) discounts, which enable 10 million of our PBM members to benefit from negotiated rebates applied at the pharmacy counter, reducing their OOP costs when they pick up their medicines; and
- Formulary strategies that promote utilization of generics and biosimilars – lower-cost therapeutic alternatives to expensive brand-name medications.
Providing Affordable Care in the Community
CVS Health is working to bring affordable, high-quality care closer to home. Care delivered at our 1,110 MinuteClinic locations nationwide is up to 80 percent less expensive than comparable care provided at emergency rooms.
Furthermore, our 36,000 health care professionals, including pharmacists and nurse practitioners, are trained to offer a number of basic health services from medication counseling and disease management to support acute and chronic health conditions. These services help lower costs by improving medication adherence and preventing unnecessary hospital readmissions. For example:
- Targeted interventions through our Pharmacy Advisor program can deliver up to 10 percent greater adherence to hypertension medication, 9 percent for anti-diabetics, and 12 percent for cholesterol therapy; and
- Following a hospital stay, our pharmacist-led medication reconciliation programs provide 50% fewer preventable readmissions and an average of $1,300 savings per patient.
For more information on how CVS Health is working to expand access to more affordable and effective health care, check out our Cost of Care information center and the CVS Health Impact Dashboard. To stay informed about the latest updates and innovations from CVS Health, register for content alerts and our bi-weekly health care newsletter.