Weekend Update

Congress is out of session this coming week for the Independence Day holiday.  There’s only three months left in the current federal fiscal year. 

At the end of last week, CVS Caremark released a report on an important topic, prescription drug adherence in the US.  “An interactive online hub developed in conjunction with the report allows audiences to filter data based on market segment, health condition and adherence measure to gain deeper insight into a specific state or draw comparisons across them.”  The Pharmacy Times reports that

To supplement the report, the CVS Caremark Pharmacy Care Research Institute released a compilation of 28 studies conducted by CVS Caremark and its research partners over the last several years. “Advancing Adherence and the Science of Pharmacy Care: Volume III” includes research done in collaboration with Brigham and Women’s Hospital that attempts to understand the reasons why patients do not take their medication and that tests the best ways to improve adherence.   The researchers of these studies are currently developing and testing 4 strategies for improving adherence. The first strategy is to simplify complex medication regimens, working with pharmacists and patients to allow patients to pick up all their medications on a single day each month rather than requiring them to make multiple trips to the pharmacy. The second is to make dosage information on certain medication labels more legible, which is especially important for elderly patients.   The third is an approach called preventative analytics, which analyzes data to determine which patients are at the highest risk of non-adherence. Pharmacists then contact these patients and their physicians to stop non-adherence before it starts. The researchers are also investigating whether it is most effective to contact these patients by phone or text message or to contact their doctor. The final method for improving adherence is to increase involvement by physicians, who may be unaware of their patients’ adherence habits. Once they are provided with this information, physicians can collaborate with pharmacists to improve adherence and reduce the overall cost of care throughout the country. 

Also last week, AHIP issued is annual census on Health Savings Account / High Deductible Health Plan enrollment.   Enrollment has tripled from 2007 to nearly 15.5 million Americans.

Key findings from the census include:
    The number of individuals with HSA coverage rose to nearly 15.5 million in January 2013, up from 13.5 in January 2012. Enrollment has continued to increase each year of the census with 11.4 million enrolled in coverage in January 2011, 10.0 million in January 2010, 8.0 million in January 2009, and 6.1 million in January 2008.
    Between January 2012 and January 2013, the most significant enrollment gains occurred in the large group market. The number of HSA/HDHP covered lives enrolled in large group plans increased from 7.9 million in January 2012 to 9.6 million in January 2013.
    Forty-nine (49) percent of all HSA/HDHP enrollees in the individual market (including dependents covered under family plans) were age 40 or over; 51 percent were under age 40.
    States with the highest levels of HSA/HDHP enrollment were Illinois (903,000 enrollees), Texas (889,364 enrollees), California (808,019 enrollees), Ohio (686,616 enrollees), and Michigan (577,208 enrollees).    

The FEHB Program was practically the first to market with these consumer driven plans in 2004, and those plans have been successful.