Out-Of-Pocket Prescription Costs Under A Typical Silver Plan Are Twice As High As They Are In The Average Employer Plan
Author: Kenneth E. Thorpe, Lindsay Allen, Peter Joski
The health insurance Marketplaces created under the Affordable Care Act have attracted nearly ten million enrollees, including many people who were previously insured by an employer-sponsored plan. The most popular Marketplace plan—the silver plan—has significantly higher cost sharing than does a typical employer-sponsored plan, which may cause patients to reduce the use of cost-saving services that are essential for managing chronic conditions. We estimated the impact of higher cost sharing on drug and medical spending among patients with chronic conditions. Using national data, we compared cost sharing and prescription and medical spending for patients covered by employer-sponsored plans to the spending for those in a typical silver plan in the Marketplaces. Our results show that out-of-pocket expenses for medications in a typical silver plan are twice as high as they are in the average employer-sponsored plan, resulting in fewer prescriptions filled and refilled and in higher spending on other medical services. Maintaining the use of cost-effective prescription medications might require lower cost sharing for patients with chronic conditions than is currently found in the Marketplaces.