February 20, 2012

On healthcare issues, poll after poll shows that cost is the greatest concern for both consumers and employers. At the same time, the growth of Amazon.com and other online retailers highlights greater consumer demand for convenience and home delivery. With prescription drugs, these trends have led to the greater use of high-tech mail-service pharmacies.

While patients with short-term, acute needs continue to use drugstores, patients with chronic conditions like high blood pressure increasingly rely on mail-service pharmacies to save money and have prescriptions delivered to their homes. However, proposed state laws and regulations that restrict mail-service pharmacy options threaten to raise costs for both consumers and payers.

Read the study.

Major Findings on Mail-Service Pharmacy Savings

Compared to brick-and-mortar drugstores, mail-service pharmacies offer deeper discounts and reduced copays for 90-day prescriptions. This generates substantial savings:

  • Mail-service pharmacies will save $46.6 billion nationally for employers, unions, government employee plans, consumers, and other commercial-sector payers over the next ten years.
  • Mail-service pharmacies save consumers and payers an average of 15% on 90-day prescriptions compared to 90-day prescriptions obtained at brick-and-mortar drugstores.
  • Mail-service pharmacies save consumers and payers an average of $22 per 90-day prescription compared to the same prescription obtained at a drugstore.

Major Findings on the Cost of Restrictions on Mail-Service Pharmacies

When state or federal laws or regulations place restrictions or prohibitions on the use of mail-service pharmacies, savings are threatened:

  • Laws or regulations that prohibit health plan sponsors from offering consumers lower copays on mail-service prescriptions can decrease mail-service pharmacy use—and savings—by more than 50% for those plan sponsors, according to government research.
  • Each 1 percentage point decrease in the use of mail-service pharmacies nationally would increase prescription costs by $2.3 billion over ten years for consumers and commercial-sector payers.
  • Across the country, all types of pharmacies—including independents—are filling an increasing number of prescriptions, indicating broad consumer access to drugstores and no rationale for restrictions on mail-service pharmacies.