January 26, 2011

Study shows more doctors are dispensing drugs at a cost to insurers

By Lindy Z. Kerr

A recently published study from The National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) concludes more doctors are dispensing drugs directly from their office, and the practice is costly. The data used in the study was collected on July 1, 2009 and is for medical services provided between 1996 and 2008 for injuries that occurred between 1994 and 2008. Here are some key findings:

Doctor dispensed drugs often increase prescription costs in a claim because the cost per unit of physician-dispensed drugs is often higher than the cost per unit of the same drug dispensed by a pharmacy.
Nationally, workers’ compensation costs arising from physician-dispensed drugs rose significantly in 2008. In Georgia, there was a higher than average percentage spent on physician dispensed medications. Other states with higher than average percentages include South Carolina, Florida, and Alabama.
In Georgia, the practice of physicians dispensing medication has increased significantly. In 2007 physician dispensed medication only accounted 15% of the total spent on medications. In 2008 physician dispensed medication accounted for over 30% of the total spent on medications.

Ways to keep medicaton costs down:
Most employees have a pharmacy card for filling prescriptions. When possible, encourage employees to fill prescriptions at the pharmacy. Consider contacting the physician’s workers’ compensation coordinator and request medications not be filled at the doctor’s office. Even if the treating physician is not filling prescriptions in house, medication is a costly component of most workers’ compensation claims. Particularly with expensive medications or narcotics, it is important to find out why the particular medication is prescribed, how long it will be prescribed, and whether there are cheaper alternatives. In short, communication with the doctor’s office is key to controlling costs.

If you have questions or comments, please reply to this post or contact your David & Rosetti attorney at 404-446-4488 or by visiting our website at www.davidandrosetti.com. Nothing contained in this blog should be construed as legal advice or opinion on specific facts. For editorial comments or suggestions, please contact David W. Willis at (404) 446-4491 or david.willis@davidandrosetti.com.

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