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Harvard Business Review

To Encourage Patients to Fill Prescriptions, Fix Copays

Harvard Business Review recently published an article by Tal Gross, Associate Professor, discussing ways insurers can benefit from copayments and reduce their downside.

Tal Gross

Published

on

October 14, 2022

Harvard Business Review recently published an article by Tal Gross, Associate Professor, discussing ways insurers can benefit from copayments and reduce their downside.

Copayments cause many elderly Americans to hold off on filling prescriptions until receiving their Social Security checks. A copay as little as five dollars can cause beneficiaries a delay in acquiring important drugs thus delaying care. On the other hand, copayments are an important tool in preventing waste. They nudge customers to use health care carefully and aid in setting drug prices.

Patients won’t have to postpone taking medication that could save their lives.

Tal Gross
Associate Professor, Markets, Public Policy, & Law

The challenge insurers face is ensuring the benefits copayments provide while minimizing their costs in terms of discouraging timely prescription fills. Gross recommends a few steps that retain the benefits of copayments: make some prescriptions free and identifying then helping patients most likely to delay refilling prescriptions. He states, “taking these relatively simple steps can benefit everyone. Patients won’t have to postpone taking medication that could save their lives. Insurers can do their part to help right inequities in health care. And the taxpaying public doesn’t have to foot the much-bigger bills that eventually come due when needed health care is delayed.”

Tal Gross is an associate professor in the Department of Markets, Public Policy & Law at Boston University. He is also a Faculty Research Fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research. His research focuses on health insurance and household finance. He received his bachelor’s degree from The University of Chicago and his Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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