The Value of Letting Patients Know the Cost of Medications that Cost Nothing

Mar 07, 2017

“We have already learned by experience that faith and doubt
belong together, that they govern each other like inhaling
and exhaling.”

Herman Hesse
from The Glass Bead Game

The Value of Letting Patients Know the Cost of Medications that Cost Nothing

TISA Description of the Problem: In our ongoing efforts to help patients maintain an interest in staying on medications in an effective fashion, a nurse from Oklahoma, Rosemarie Borjon, had a very sound insight. It has to deal with the fact that we humans “like a good deal” and it can be very appealing to patients to understand fully the value that they are receiving when pharmaceutical companies provide medications free of cost. Normally, I would just say something like, “Boy, it’s great that we are going to be able to get these meds for free, they cost a fair amount.” But Rosemarie shows how it is wise to be a bit more specific.

Tip: Informing the patient of the actual dollar cost of a medication provided free from a pharmaceutical or at a lowered cost from a governmental agency can help enhance interest in staying on a medication and taking it as prescribed in several ways:

1) The patient may attach a higher degree of efficacy to the medication as in, “a medication that costs $380/month must be better than one that only costs $12/month.”

2) Patients may be more hesitant to miss doses because they are thinking about how much money they wasted when they just tossed $15 (3 pills) down the toilet or have 3 pills just sitting in the bottle at the back of the shelf.

3) They don’t feel so bad about paying a $20 to $45 co-pay. For instance, I would share with a Medicaid/Medicare patient that two of my prescriptions cost $75 per co-payment, but would normally cost $400/month.

4) Truly understanding the excellent value that they are receiving makes it significantly easier for patients to feel that it is worth doing the extra paperwork for verification documents.

TISA Follow-up: The above advantages are striking, and I have nothing to add except, the above tip is an excellent one. It also helps motivate me to do the extra documentation work as well.

Tip provided by:

Rosemarie Borjon, RN
Lawton, Oklahoma

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