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How to cut costs on prescription medicines with Accolade

July 6, 2021 | 4 min read

Healthcare expenses in the United States are high and continue to rise each year. This trend holds true for increased spending on prescription medicines as well. Unfortunately, people in the United States spend more on prescription medicines than any other country, and they pay the highest prices for pharmaceutical drugs in the world, as reported by the Commonwealth Fund.

As a result, prescription medicines cost both the employer and the employee a significant amount of money each year – so much so that 17% of total healthcare spending in the United States goes towards prescriptions, according to the Commonwealth Fund. That trend line isn’t inevitable, though. With Accolade, companies can save money on prescription medicine costs while ensuring the same level of quality care for their employees. 

Accolade’s results for prescription medicine costs

A study by the independent analysts at Aon compared a matched control group to Accolade customers the year prior to employing their services and the first and second years after partnering with Accolade. The matched control group was made up of members matched on a number of factors, including age, clinical conditions, comorbidities and geography. 

The Aon study showed that, compared to a matched control group, Accolade members cut spending on specialty prescription drugs by more than 18% in 2019.

Prior to utilizing Accolade’s services, clients spent $519 per member per year on specialty prescriptions compared to the control group’s $498 per member per year. In short, they were spending 4% over a matched control group. After only two years working with Accolade’s Front Line Care team, customers experienced an 18% savings compared to the same control group. Where they had been spending 4% more than comparable controls, they were now spending 14% less.

Over this same time period, the matched control group saw prescription costs rise to $608 per member per year. That means not only did Accolade customers save a significant amount – spending just $522 per member per year – but they did so in a year where the same expenses rose for those not using Accolade.

“Our Frontline Care Team is at the epicenter of support,” said Carolyn Young, Chief Actuary with Accolade. “Because our Health Assistants and nurses see the full picture of each member’s benefits and their medical needs, they can help identify opportunities like changing to generic prescriptions. That can help cut out-of-pocket costs for member and healthcare spend for their employers while maintaining the same level of care.”

Generic vs branded pharmaceutical drugs

These cost savings also apply to brand name drugs. Accolade members were spending $358 per member per year on brand name medications prior to partnering with Accolade. After two years with Accolade on their side, our customers experienced a 10% savings compared to the control group.

“Within the first year alone, customers saw lower trends on specialty drugs as well as on brand name prescriptions,” said Young. “The matched control group, on the other hand, saw significant trend increases on both drug options each year.”

Because Accolade’s model is grounded in clinical guidance, our care teams focus on getting members access to the right care for them. In the case of prescription medicines, that means helping members identify generic alternatives that can meet their healthcare needs while saving them money. 

That guidance is reflected in the Aon study as well, which saw Accolade customers spend slightly more on generic prescriptions as their costs for specialty and brand name drugs fell. During the same two-year span, Accolade customers saw their generic medication spending increase as compared to their matched control population by 4%, demonstrating that members are still getting the prescription medicines they need – just at a more affordable price point. 

Accolade member benefits

Regardless of prescription medicine needs, employee age or the mental health needs of your team, Accolade is here to save money for both members and payers alike. Everyone deserves the right care when they need it most, and Accolade can help your team find the right solution to benefit your company and employees. 

To learn more about the results Accolade demonstrated in Aon’s analysis – and how we can help your team achieve similar results – download the full report by filling out the form below!

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