Employee Involvement Is Key to Long-Term Pharmacy Cost Control, Finds Buck Consultants Survey

Employers plan to significantly involve their workers in long-term strategies to control prescription drug costs. This finding is among the results of a survey released today by Buck Consultants.

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Another 29 percent indicate pharmacy benefits are more than 21 percent of total health plan costs.

New York (PRWEB) August 13, 2008

Employers plan to significantly involve their workers in long-term strategies to control prescription drug costs. This finding is among the results of a survey released today by Buck Consultants, an ACS company and one of the world’s leading human resource and benefits consulting firms.

Buck’s study, “Understanding Your Strategies for Coping with the Changing Pharmacy Benefit Landscape,” was conducted in the first quarter of 2008. The goal of the survey was to identify strategies employers are using to manage their prescription drug benefits and costs.

“Emerging developments in the pharmaceutical industry are challenging employers to revisit their drug benefit strategy,” said Michael Jacobs, a principal at Buck Consultants. “Unprecedented availability of inexpensive generics and the emergence of new, very expensive specialty medications are two of the trends driving this strategy review.”

More than 150 organizations participated in the survey. Respondents represent a broad range of industries and employer size.

Current State of Affairs

Essentially all (99%) respondents provide prescription drug coverage as part of their health care program for active employees. The two reasons given as most important for providing this coverage are the health of employees and business competitiveness.

Fifty-one percent of respondents use employee cost sharing as a utilization management tool. The most common cost-sharing range is 21 percent to 30 percent (used by 44 percent of respondents).

“While the cost of prescription drug coverage varies widely, more than one-third (37%) of respondents say pharmacy benefits represent between 16 percent and 20 percent of total health care costs,” said Jacobs. “Another 29 percent indicate pharmacy benefits are more than 21 percent of total health plan costs.”

When asked about the strengths and weaknesses of their current pharmacy benefit programs, the respondents cited “easy pharmacy network access” and “comprehensive formulary” as the top strengths, and “complete disclosure of manufacturer revenue” and “complete disclosure of all costs” as major weaknesses.

Benefits and Cost Management Strategies

According to the survey respondents, the most important clinical management steps they are taking to control pharmacy benefit costs are disease management, care management and smoking cessation programs.

“In terms of long-term cost control strategies, employers plan on heavy employee involvement,” said Jacobs.

The survey found that the following top the list of strategic initiatives for long-term cost management:
· Providing employees with tools and information
· Providing employee education
· Worksite wellness and health activities.

Specialty Drugs

Fifty-two percent of survey respondents believed that specialty medications – complex drugs that are often injected or infused – represent 10 percent or less of their total pharmacy costs. However, a full 28 percent of respondents didn’t know their relative spend on these expensive drugs.

“Managing these specialty drugs will be key to future cost containment strategies for employers,” said Jacobs. “And it’s interesting that, when asked which tools are used to manage specialty medication therapies, less than 10 percent mentioned either ‘discontinuation of unsuccessful therapy,’ ‘payer communication’ or ‘family involvement’.”

Buck Consultants, an ACS company, is a leader in human resource and benefits consulting with more than 1,500 professionals worldwide. Founded in 1916 to advise clients in establishing and funding some of the nation’s first public and private retirement programs, Buck is an innovator in the areas of retirement benefits, health and welfare programs, human capital management, and employee communication. News and other information about Buck Consultants are available at http://www.buckconsultants.com. Buck is an independent subsidiary of Affiliated Computer Services, Inc.

ACS, a global FORTUNE 500 company with 63,000 people supporting client operations reaching more than 100 countries, provides business process outsourcing and information technology solutions to world-class commercial and government clients. The company's Class A common stock trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "ACS." Learn more about ACS at http://www.acs-inc.com.

Buck’s survey report, “Understanding Your Strategies for Coping with the Changing Pharmacy Benefit Landscape,” is available to the media by contacting Ed Gadowski at 201-902-2825. It is available to other interested parties for $100 from Buck’s Global Survey Resources, 500 Plaza Drive, Secaucus, NJ, 07096-1533. Telephone 1-800-887-0509. It also can be ordered online at http://www.bucksurveys.com.

Media Relations Contacts:        
Ed Gadowski            
Media Relations            
Buck Consultants            
201-902-2825    
edward.gadowski @ buckconsultants.com    

Carol DeMatteo
Corporate Communications
Affiliated Computer Services, Inc.
214-841-8110
carol.dematteo @ acs-inc.com

This press release was distributed through eMediawire by Human Resources Marketer (HR Marketer: http://www.HRmarketer.com) on behalf of the company listed above.

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