A Healthy Blog

Massachusetts health care — wonky, with a healthy dose of reality

Stupid and Smart Health Reform

Stupid and Smart Health Reform

May 19, 2005

Stupid: The trend in health care is clear -- make consumers pay more for everything everywhere. Copayments, deductibles, premiums and more. A new study from the Center for Studying Health System Change provides a good window into the way this cost shifting hurts. In 2003, more than 14 million adults with chronic conditions -- half low income -- could not afford their prescriptions; African Americans were twice as likely to forego needed medications. The numbers facing this problem are growing because of increasing co-payments and other cost sharing. Short term savings, long term higher costs.

Smart: An alternative: in 2003, Pitney Bowes ended co-payments for prescription drugs for their employees and families with asthma, diabetes, and other chronic conditions. After the change, PB found their overall health spending went DOWN as more workers and family members complied with their recommended treatments and medications. This was described in the Wall Street Journal in a May 19, 2004 article: "Higher Co-Pays May Take Toll on Health."