Providers showing drug prices
by jerry on July 11, 2019
Kaiser Health News ran an interesting story about some providers using pricing tools to help patients select drugs. The story is a nice one about giving providers and patients a tool at the time of decision (and not when the patients are picking up medications at the pharmacies); if one medication is too expensive, the provider might be able to find a different pharmacy that sells it for less, or potentially prescribe a different (but equivalent) medication altogether. It is a sign of the times that insurers are making these tools available to providers to help patients potentially save (which would in turn help insurers themselves save).
One of the issues with these tools is that it takes providers time to use them, and that likely explains the low adoption rate among doctors who can use Humana's tool. However, some of the larger provider organizations have a financial interest in helping ensure that patients choose more cost-effective solutions: some medical groups share in the medical savings that they help achieve. If the trend towards providers participating in risk-sharing continues, more and more practices might have a stronger incentive to use these pricing tools.