New Study: Limiting Copayments Improves Use of High-Value Drugs

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<p>An initiative by the U.S. technology company Pitney Bowes to make medications of proven value less expensive for their employees succeeded in stabilizing adherence to treatment regimens, according to a new <a href="/publications/journal-article/2010/nov/pitney-bowes-value-based-insurance-design-cut-copayments-and">Commonwealth Fund-supported study</a> in <em>Health Affairs</em>.</p>
<p>The study, led by Niteesh K. Choudhry of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, found that adherence to cholesterol-lowering statin drugs, which had been on the decline, immediately stabilized after Pitney Bowes eliminated copayments for the drugs for all employees and beneficiaries who had diabetes or vascular disease. Adherence to statins was 2.8 percent higher in the Pitney Bowes group than in a control group of patients.</p>
<p>Pitney Bowes also lowered copayments for all employees and beneficiaries prescribed the blood clot-inhibiting drug clopidogrel, which led to an immediate stabilizing of the adherence rate. After a year, the Pitney Bowes group had a 4 percent higher adherence rate than the control group.</p>
<p>The study is especially significant, the authors say, because it is one of the first to demonstrate the effectiveness of value-based insurance design, which is intended to promote the use of services or treatments that provide high benefits relative to cost and, alternatively, to discourage the use of services whose benefits do not justify their cost. The results suggest that employers and health plans that are raising deductibles and other types of cost-sharing for all services might be missing opportunities to improve their enrollees' health and achieve savings. <br /><br /></p>