Prices for Physician-Dispensed Drugs in Georgia Fell After Reforms, But Still Higher Than Pharmacies

Share Article

This study, Impact of Physician Dispensing Reform in Georgia, 2nd Edition, is an update to the 2013 WCRI study that examined the early results of Georgia’s reform using pre- and post-reform data.

Doctor writing prescription for opioids.

Doctor writing prescription for opioids.

In many states across the country, policymakers are debating whether doctors should be paid significantly more than pharmacies for dispensing the same drug.

A new study from the Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) showed that Georgia’s changes to the reimbursement rules for physician-dispensed drugs reduced the average price per pill paid by 25–40 percent for most of the drugs commonly dispensed by physicians. However, the post-reform prices paid for physician-dispensed drugs were still 20–40 percent higher than the prices paid to pharmacies for the same drug.

“In many states across the country, policymakers are debating whether doctors should be paid significantly more than pharmacies for dispensing the same drug,” said Dr. Richard Victor, WCRI’s executive director. “Policymakers in Georgia adopted new rules to narrow the price difference, and the research continues to show the new regulations did not discourage physicians from continuing to dispense these drugs at lower prices, which was a concern.”

The study, Impact of Physician Dispensing Reform in Georgia, 2nd Edition, is an update to the 2013 WCRI study that examined the early results of Georgia’s reform using pre- and post-reform data. With an additional year of data, the study found that there was little change in the prevalence of physician dispensing in the second post-reform period after an initial drop (from 36 percent pre-reform to 28 percent in the first post-reform period and 27 in the second post-reform period) while the share of drug costs for physician-dispensed prescriptions had another 5 percentage point decrease (from 49 percent to 34 and 29 percent, respectively).

Georgia’s rule changes, effective in April 2011, capped the reimbursement amount for physician-dispensed prescriptions to the average wholesale price (AWP) of the original drug product used in the repackaging process if a repackaged drug is dispensed. The reform did not limit physicians’ ability to dispense prescription drugs. Georgia is one of the 16 states that have made legislative or regulatory changes to address cost issues related to physician dispensing.

Prior to the rule change, for example, a prescription for hydrocodone-acetaminophen was paid at $0.48 per pill when filled at a pharmacy, but $1.06 per pill when filled at the doctors’ office—the price difference was 121 percent. In the two post-reform periods, the price difference for the same drug was significantly reduced but still at 34–39 percent. The study offers some reasons as to why this occurred.

The data used in this analysis of Georgia’s pharmacy fee schedule reform came from payors in Georgia that represented 46 percent of the claims in the state workers’ compensation system. The pre-reform data consist of claims from 3,851 injured workers with more than one week of lost time. These claims arose between April 1, 2010, and September 30, 2010, with 24,672 prescriptions filled through March 31, 2011. The data for the first post-reform period consist of 3,960 claims that arose between April 1, 2011, and September 30, 2011, with 24,925 prescriptions filled through March 31, 2012. The data for the second post-reform period consist of 4,164 claims that arose between April 1, 2012, and September 30, 2012, with 25,325 prescriptions filled through March 31, 2013.

For more information about this study or to purchase a copy, visit http://www.wcrinet.org/result/phys_disp_ga2_result.html.

ABOUT WCRI:

The Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) is an independent, not-for-profit research organization based in Cambridge, MA. Organized in late 1983, the Institute does not take positions on the issues it researches; rather, it provides information obtained through studies and data collection efforts, which conform to recognized scientific methods. Objectivity is further ensured through rigorous, unbiased peer review procedures. WCRI's diverse membership includes employers; insurers; governmental entities; managed care companies; health care providers; insurance regulators; state labor organizations; and state administrative agencies in the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Share article on socal media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Andrew Kenneally
Workers Compensation Research Institute
+1 (617) 661-9274 Ext: 257
Email >
WCRI
since: 06/2011
Like >
WCRI

Follow us on
Visit website