The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is one of those programs people either love or love to hate. Regardless of what side of the fence one comes down on, it has undeniably changed the landscape of healthcare since its inception in 2010. One of the recently documented benefits of the ACA is that more people are receiving treatment in the form of increased prescription drug use while paying less for it. This is especially true for people with chronic health conditions.
What is a Chronic Condition?
A chronic condition is one that persists for more than three months. They typically can’t be prevented or cured, but the symptoms can be treated. It is estimated that more than eighty percent of Americans over the age of 65 suffer from at least one chronic condition. The Rand Corporation examined the spending of patients who had at least one of five chronic conditions: high cholesterol, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or asthma, diabetes, hormone therapy for breast cancer, and depression or anxiety.
More Prescriptions for Less Money
The study found a statistically significant increase in the number of prescriptions being filled by patients suffering from one of the chronic conditions after the patient gained healthcare coverage. They also found that these patients had lower annual out of pocket expenses even though they were obtaining more care than in previous years.
What does it mean?
While it is not typically possible to cure such chronic diseases as asthma or diabetes, it is possible to manage the symptoms. When this is done successfully it mitigates the health complications patients can suffer as a result of their disease. Managing the condition successfully can prevent secondary complications which frequently result in greater cost for treatment and recovery.
When patients are encouraged to utilize the available treatments for their chronic conditions, their quality of life tends to improve and their overall healthcare costs appear to decrease. It is important for those who are under or uninsured to be aware of the benefits of obtaining adequate healthcare and to use the resources it offers once they have gained coverage.
Pharmacists can help make this process easier by educating their patients on which medications are covered, the out-of-pocket cost associated with filling prescriptions, and the benefits of using their medications on the prescribed basis. They may also wish to consider partnering with their local ACA insurance providers or facilitators to provide literature about the plans that are available, their eligibility, and special qualifying events that may allow patients to receive coverage in the middle of the year.