49% of Americans Experienced Challenges Getting Specialty Medications

Employees are willing to change jobs to receive better coverage for specialty medications.

Nearly half of Americans have experienced challenges getting specialty medications, according to the findings of a recent survey by The Harris Poll on behalf of RxBenefits.

Many respondents (24%) reported the top challenge experienced was the overall cost of the medication being too high. Another barrier was the medication not being covered by an employer-provided health plan (16%).

“Specialty drug utilization continues to increase, and is showing no signs of slowing down,” Bryan Statham, chief executive officer of RxBenefits, said in a press release. “In fact, specialty medication costs accounted for over 50% of the total pharmacy spend incurred in 2020. While specialty carve-out has often been touted as an effective method to contain costs, the approach is not effective for employees and can actually cause severe member and service disruption.”

Statham suggested employers go beyond providing a paycheck to attract and retain talent. In fact, a rich benefits package while keeping costs low could lead to a healthier bottom line and more satisfied workforce.

Findings of the survey also revealed Americans aged 18-44 years old were more likely than those at least 45 years old to say they would switch jobs to get coverage if their employer-provided benefits did not cover the coast of their, or a family member’s, specialty medications (19% vs 5%). What’s more those aged 18-44 years old were more likely than those at least 55 years old to say they would involve their company’s human resources department to gain coverage (21% vs 10%).

Still, 73% of Americans surveyed were currently covered by an employer-provided health benefits plan with prescription drug coverage. And 80% said it was important their current or future employer-provided health benefits plan will cover the cost of specialty medications for them or their family.

“The results of this survey further showcase just how important medication coverage is to today’s consumers,” Mark Campbell, Pharm.D., vice president of clinical solutions at RxBenefits, said in the press release. “And while the benefits landscape can certainly be complicated, employers need an advocate that watches out for their financial interests as well as the best health of their employees — someone that helps them understand when something is right and when it’s not.”

The online survey was conducted within the U.S. between June 24-28, 2021, and included more than 2,000 adults at least 18 years old.