Healthcare plans assist individuals in augmenting the quality of life by assisting them in maintaining health. A healthcare plan is committed to provide guidance, information, advocacy and service to its members in order for them to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Healthcare plans aim to improve the quality and efficiency of health care assistance, to increase the accessibility to health care services for various populations, to increase price and quality transparency and to ascertain accountability for all services received.
In order to achieve these goals, healthcare plans often link with other healthcare providers to improve both benefits and the marketing of health insurance industry. Managed healthcare plans are associated with routine measurement of its performance. It also encourages highly efficient health care options to its members, as well as the application of information technologies in keeping and maintaining patient health records.
The use of prescribing medications electronically is also presented, which helps in keeping the patients safe from errors of drug consumption, as well as duplication of services, which are deemed to be wasteful in terms of money, time and effort. Such improvement may also advance the mode of access for health test results and other information. Prescription drug benefits are an important topic in managed healthcare plans because there has been an increase in the procurement of pharmaceutical drugs during the last ten years.
Drug purchase comprises approximately 10% of health care expenses in the United States, and it has been estimated that almost 3% of the entire household expenses of elderly adults are spent towards buying medicines (Kreling et al. , 2001). Such amplification in the general drug expenses per household results from variations in the price of the pharmaceutical drugs and the frequency of usage of drugs. A higher frequency of drug usage, as also influenced by the amount of prescriptions given by a medical practitioner to a patient, plays one of the major influences on the general increase in drug expenses.
An increase in general drug expenses in a household is also influenced by the increase in price of the particular drugs that the household routinely procures for medication and health maintenance. Another force that generates an increase in the household expenses for drugs involves the switching from previous medications to newer prescription drugs. Old medications are usually replaced by newer drugs because newer drugs tend to be more efficacious and potent that the old medication. Unfortunately, newer drugs are commonly more expensive.
It has been estimated that there has been a 17% increase in the purchase of pharmaceutical drugs recently, wherein 6% of such increase was due to inflation in the price of the pharmaceutical drug, and another 6% was due the actual increase in price of the drug itself, and another 4% increase was influenced by the switch from an old prescription to a new medication (NIHCM, 2002). It has been determined that the consumption of pharmaceutical drugs has increased yearly for the last 10 years, mainly due to the aggressive advertising and promotion of pharmaceutical drugs by the corresponding drug companies to medical practitioners.
In addition, the increased utilization of pharmaceutical drugs is also influenced by the number of elderly patients that are being prescribed multiple pharmaceutical drugs for treatment and maintenance. Among such drugs are those effective to management of blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar and depression. Prescription drug benefits have facilitated consumers in reducing the prices of pharmaceutical drugs, wherein the health insurance companies have indicated that specific drugs with reasonable prices will only be included in their formulary of prescription drugs.
Health insurance companies have also adapted co-payment options which guide the consumer to procure cheaper yet effective drugs for their treatment. In addition, medical practitioners are also advised that they provide their patients with both brand and generic names of the prescription drugs they are handing out to their patients, so that the patients will have the freedom to choose which pharmaceutical drug they will buy from the pharmacy (Lanjouw and Cockburn, 2005).