As we published in our most recent Workers’ Compensation Drug Trend Report, workers' comp payers waste $2 billion each year due to injured workers using more more expensive, brand name medications instead of lower-cost, clinically equivalent generics.
Express Scripts recently launched a pilot to curb this waste by tapping into humans' desire to do the right thing.
The Challenge of Workers’ Comp
Common belief has been that it would be hard to convince an injured worker to choose a lower-cost alternative because there is no financial incentive for them to do so, as injured workers have no out-of-pocket expense for the treatment related to their injuries.
The findings of the Express Scripts pilot study demonstrate how workers’ comp payers can save money when the right communications are sent to injured workers. The pilot found that injured workers who were sent a “social responsibility” letter – a letter explaining how their prescription drug choices could help control the rising cost of healthcare – were 60% more likely to choose a generic equivalent.
Sample Letter How Prescription Drug Choices Control Rising Cost Of Healthcare
Workers' comp payers save $34, on average, for each prescription switched from a brand name medication to a generic equivalent. To put that in perspective, the 11,000 injured workers that were targeted in the pilot could reduce the amount of annual waste from using brand name medications by $373,000.
Insights from the Behavioral Sciences
The findings of the pilot are in line with what Express Scripts' research into the behavioral sciences has demonstrated in the past. As we published in our 2010 Drug Trend Report, a majority of consumers – 60% to 80% – would be willing to switch to a lower-cost generic medication to save money for other entities – their country, employer or health plan. Even if there is no direct financial incentive for them.
This new pilot underscores how we can apply our learnings from the behavioral sciences to the workers’ compensation industry to help injured workers make the most appropriate decisions about their medication regimen.
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- The pilot was conducted as a randomized controlled trial.
- The pilot included injured workers from multiple workers’ compensation clients.
- Of the targeted injured workers, 89% were taking brand name medications exclusively while the rest had prescriptions for both brands and generics.
- The pilot tracked prescription usage for 60 days after the letters were sent.
- Individual client results (with sufficient sample size) mirrored the overall distribution.