Go Generic in 2012.
One of the biggest challenges facing HR in 2012 will be managing health benefits costs. No, really? Easier said than done; right? Rising costs from federal health care reform legislation combined with a continuation of a globally weak economy may impact organization’s total rewards budget while making employees more sensitive to changes in their benefit costs.
Despite a dismal outlook for plan year 2012, you can expect at least one bright point. Seriously. A one-off opportunity to significantly decrease your organization’s pharmacy benefit costs.
In 2012, the twenty-year patents for a majority of top-selling prescription drugs will expire, and will become available in generic form. Employees will have the option to choose generics. Informing employees when generic alternatives are available will have an immediate impact bottom line of both employees and employers.
It’s important to sell this option to employees. Employees need to know that generic drugs are:
- Chemically identical to their brand-name counterparts.
- Held to the same manufacturing and quality standards.
- Cost a fraction of the brand drug.
- 68% of prescriptions written are for generics.
- The remaining 1/3 that is driving up your pharmacy benefit claims.
Your PBM (Medco, Caremark, Express Scripts, Walgreens, CVS/Caremark) has tools available to educate employees about generics. Partner with them to initiate the following:
- Have the PBM provide data identifying which claims activity is for expiring-patent drugs, such as Lipitor, Plavix, Actos, Symbicort, and Crestor.
- Educate employees about mail order programs for maintenance medications. This reduces employee out of pocket expense by 65% or more.
- Use email and social media to alert employees that frequently-used medications are available as generics.
- Encourage employees to ask doctors for generics.
- Reach employees with hypertension, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease who are likely to use brand prescriptions disease management programs