Taking your medicine can lead to quite a windfall in reduced medical claims, according to a study recently published in Health Affairs. Over the course of a year, patients with diabetes who took their medications as directed saved their insurance companies a handsome $3,756 compared to people who didn’t, even after claiming as much as $1000 for those very medications. The money was saved because the patients spent less time at the emergency room and in the hospital, a nice benefit in itself.
The study analyzed three years’ worth of healthcare claims for 135,000 patients with one of four chronic diseases: diabetes, congestive heart failure, hypertension, and high cholesterol. The “adherent” patients with congestive heart failure saved even more money than those with diabetes, costing $7,823 less every year than the patients who didn’t take their medicines as their doctors advised. People with hypertension and high cholesterol also saved a pretty penny, $3,908 and $1,258 respectively.
The researchers, sponsored by CVS Caremark and led by M. Christopher Roebuck, found that the claims savings were most dramatic in patients over 65 years of age. Consequently, they described the recent Medicare reforms, which eliminate “donut hole” expenses and provide for therapy management and wellness programs, as “prudent.” They also recommended looking into adherence programs and incentives as a way to lower healthcare costs. “No matter what the intervention,” said Roebuck, “the researchers agreed that actively encouraging medication adherence for chronic disease should be a top priority.”