Monetary incentive to take medication regularly

It is no new information that the cost of healthcare is skyrocketing in the United States.  It was bit surprising for me to know that one of the major cause of this increase is that people do not take their medicine on time.  It is estimated that one third to one half of all the patients do not take medication as prescribed and about one quarter do not refill the prescription at all.  Such carelessness has cost implications to healthcare industry and adds roughly annual cost of 100 Billion dollars. 

What do you think could be solution to this problem?

Simple as that you have to somehow motivate people to take their medicines on time.  A system to reward the patients to take their medication on time has been experimented and has resulted in positive results.  Here are highlights of the some experiments:  

  • Financial reward offered to patients in a Philadelphia program with potential to earn $10 to $100 each day they take the drug – lottery system by using computerized pillbox to keep record of daily usage.
  • CVS Caremark discounted copayments for employees of certain corporations in its drug plan to motivate prescription filing.
  • Aetna, one of the health insurers, paid doctors to prescribe medication to prevent problems like beta blockers to prevent heart attacks, statins for diabetes. Currently 93,000 doctors are in Aetna’s “pay for performance” program with
    bonus average 3 – 5% of their base income.
  • Federal health care programs include paying pharmacists to educate Medicare...

    patients to take pills correctly.

 Irregularity in taking the medication can have adverse health issues. Patients on antibiotics may suffer with antibiotic resistance in future, if they are irregular in their medication.  It is a condition when harmful bacteria develop the ability to survive exposure to one or more antibiotics. Usually patients have tendency to take antibiotics until they feel better and this short duration may not eliminate all pathogenic bacteria from the body.  Over a period of time such people may require more antibiotics for longer duration to treat the infections and other symptoms.  

Some of these programs have worked and are targeted to provide some or other incentive to keep patients on track with their medication.  The programs are along the lines of incentive provided by health insurers to visit health clubs regularly and be on preventive care.  Well with use of mobile phone and hopefully increasing demand for smart phones, baby boomers will use the technology to keep themselves on track.  This problem does pose a huge burden on our health care cost and if you have any ideas to keep patients on their medication, roll them and help the economy. 


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