A recent study by researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the CVS Health Research Institute found that improved prescription drug insurance contributes to better patient health and decreases the likelihood of patients needing more costly medical services.
After reviewing 23 studies that explored prescription drug changes between 1990 and 2003, researchers uncovered a steady connection between better patient health and drug insurance changes.
More patients could afford medications when drug insurance programs were enlarged, thus patients had improved access to prescriptions for ongoing ailments. Better access to medicine reduced general health care use and expensive complications. Moreover, when insurance companies placed heavy caps on drug benefits, studies showed a negative effect on the health of patients.
"This review confirms the central role that effective prescription drug insurance can play as policymakers seek mechanisms to reduce rising health care costs in the United States," Dr. Troyen A. Brennan, chief medical officer for CVS Health, said.
The analysis of past prescription drug studies showed that limiting prescription drug availability may have a direct correlation with lower-than-estimated cost-savings and detrimental effects on the health of patients.
"As we continue to work toward balancing cost and quality in the U.S. health care system, this analysis suggests that policymakers should consider strategies other than limiting drug insurance," Dr. Aaron S. Kesselheim, the study's lead author and a faculty member in the Division of Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics at Brigham and Women's Hospital, said.
Full findings of the study were recently published in the "American Journal of Public Health."