201001 Proven strategies to reduce consumers' pharmaceutical costs and improve health outcomes

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sarah Gerrish, LSW , CarePartners, MaineHealth, Portland, ME
Carol Zechman, LCSW , CarePartners/MedAccess, MaineHealth, Portland, ME
One in four Americans, totaling 70 million people lack insurance that covers prescription drugs. Those who cannot afford their medications often go without them, resulting in poor health outcomes, especially among those who have chronic illnesses. The purpose of MaineHealth's MedAccess program is to increase access to low-cost or free prescription medications. The program achieves this goal through a variety of methods including direct assistance by MedAccess staff, medication management, website information, healthcare provider education programs, and free educational classes, which include a CD resource toolkit, scheduled through local social service agencies, community centers, medical providers, and area agencies on aging. MedAccess uses specially designed software to effectively "mine" the Pharmacy Assistance Programs (PAPs) offered by most large pharmaceutical companies. Staff also review the availability of $4 generic programs, local prescription discount programs, and Medicare Part D plans when appropriate. Over 55% of program enrollees are female. A typical enrollee is in her 20s or late 50s with part-time or self employment and cannot afford private health insurance premiums. Since its inception in 2005, MedAccess has completed over 5,100 PAP applications for a wholesale value of medications worth over $5.3 million. All of this is accomplished on a $65K annual budget. MedAccess enrollee health status and healthcare utilization are tracked. Program data has resulted in improved health outcomes and a significant reduction in hospital utilization. The MedAccess program served as the model for a statewide grant foundation initiative in 2006 that has replicated the program in 25 additional sites.

Learning Objectives:
1. Identify multiple free and low-cost medication access programs and maximize their utilization. 2. Demonstrate cost savings to consumers, access to care programs and hospital free care and bad debt programs. 3. Identify program evaluation methods.

Keywords: Access to Care, Chronic Illness

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the Assistant Director of the MaineHealth CarePartners/MedAccess Programs. I am the co-author of the report 'Opportunities and Challenges: Improving Access and Health Outcomes through the CarePartners Program.'
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.