Pharmaceutical costs linked to number and type of health risks
Measuring the relationship between employees' health risk factors and corporate pharmaceutical expenditures. Burton WN, Chen CY, Conti DJ, Schultz AB, Edington DW. J Occup Environ Med. 2003. 45: 793-802.
To quantify the impact of different health risk factors on pharmaceutical expenditure.
3,554 employees of the US-based company Bank One, who participated in a pharmacy benefit plan and who had completed a health risk appraisal (HRA).
HRA data were compared with pharmaceutical costs in 2000.
- Age and sex had significant a significant effect on pharmaceutical costs, and being an ex-smoker, having high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, a high body mass index and reporting fair or poor self-perceived health were all significantly associated with raised drug-related costs.
- After controlling for age, sex and the number of self-reported diseases, each additional risk factor was associated with an average annual increase in pharmacy claims costs of US$76 per employee.
- However, lack of physical activity, heavy use of alcohol, failure to use seat belts, dissatisfaction with life or job, and stress were not related to pharmaceutical costs.
- The average pharmaceutical costs were $425 for low-risk employees (0-2 risk factors), $591 for medium- risk employees (3-4 risk factors), and $915 for high-risk employees (≥5 risk factors).
What does this mean?
Programs that target modifiable risk factors might reduce pharmaceutical costs. Of note, the modification of some risk factors could, however, lead to increased costs (e.g. drug therapy for high cholesterol levels).