When it comes to prescription drug benefits, cost matters much more to consumers than access to every branded medication and local drug store, according to a survey commissioned by the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA).


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Consumers satisfied with Rx coverage, survey says

December 6th, 2011

WASHINGTON – When it comes to prescription drug benefits, cost matters much more to consumers than access to every branded medication and local drug store, according to a survey commissioned by the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA).

The pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) trade group said Monday that the national telephone poll of 800 adults with prescription drug coverage, conducted late last month by Ayres, McHenry & Associates, found that consumers are satisfied with their current prescription drug benefits.

Respondents said they were satisfied with their Rx coverage by an 89% to 8% margin; said they have access to a wide variety of drugs by an 83% to 8% margin; and said they have access to a wide variety of drug stores by an 87% to 8% margin, according to PCMA. Medicare enrollees with prescription drug benefits are satisfied by an 87% to 9% margin.

The survey findings showed that to consumers, cost savings weigh more heavily than broader drug store and prescription drug access, PCMA noted. Asked which objective is most important for their prescription drug plan, 56% of respondents said "holding down premiums and other out-of-pocket costs"; 18% said "access to every brand-name prescription drug"; and 17% said "access to every drug store in [their] area."

Of adults polled, 12% indicated they would be willing to pay a higher premium if their drug plan added more drug stores to its network, while 84% would not be willing to pay more, PCMA said.

Respondents who have tried mail order delivery of prescriptions for ongoing conditions were satisfied with the service by more than a six-to-one margin, the association added. Among the 31% of insured adults who have tried mail order, 89% are satisfied with the service and 10% are dissatisfied, the poll found.

And by a 70% to 19% margin, respondents agreed that "prescription drug plans should try to reduce prescription drug costs for consumers as much as possible, even if it means drug stores make less money" rather than "prescription drug plans should protect drug stores' ability to make money, even if it raises prescription drug costs, because they are a vital business in many communities," according to PCMA.

"Consumers appreciate the savings and access that pharmacy benefit managers deliver," PCMA president and chief executive officer Mark Merritt said in a statement.

Pharmacy access and prescription drug costs are key issues surrounding the controversial merger deal between PBMs Express Scripts Inc. and Medco Health Solutions. A Senate subcommitteee will examine the proposed merger, which is pending review by the Federal Trade Commission, on Tuesday afternoon.

One group opposing the deal — Preserve Community Pharmacy Access NOW! (PCPAN), a nationwide coalition of consumers, businesses and community pharmacists — contends that the merger would give the combined PBM excessive control over the health care plans of millions of Americans, resulting in higher costs for prescriptions and reduced access to local community pharmacies.

"When considering a deal like this where access and affordability of health care are on the line for tens of millions of Americans, increased scrutiny is essential — and I applaud subcommittee members for taking a closer look to determine who exactly would benefit from this merger," stated former Rep. Eva Clayton, who chairs PCPAN. "I think that after close examination, they will determine that an approved merger is not in the best interest of patients, employers or health care in America."

 

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