HealthPartners takes steps to save patients money on meds

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HealthPartners, a 7-hospital delivery system serving parts of Minnesota and Wisconsin that also serves as a health insurer with 1.8 million members, is making it easier for members to comparison shop for prescription drugs.

The organization offers members a prescription shopping tool via a website or a mobile app from GoodRx, a vendor that tracks prescription prices from more than 65,000 pharmacies in HealthPartners’ network and also offers drug coupons. Members must have an account on the HealthPartners web site or on the mobile app to comparison shop.

“This tool makes it easier for members to see and compare prices which can help lower the cost of their care,” says Scott Schnuckle, senior vice president of pharmacy and business development at HealthPartners. “Studies show that the cost of medication is a top reason why up to 50 percent of prescriptions are not filled or are not taken as prescribed. This tool will help remove that barrier to better health.” The tool also gives consumers the actual cost of a medication if deductibles are not yet met and a new feature identifies specific pharmacies that support one or more languages besides English.

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In addition to comparing prices at local pharmacies and mail order firms, the tool aids in identifying the best choice for a single pharmacy for patients with multiple medications, knowing if a medication is covered by insurance with alternative medications suggested if not covered, transferring a prescription from one pharmacy to another with two clicks, being alerted if refills are available, and being able to save money by getting a 90-day supply of medication, or a generic or an appropriate non-prescription medication.

Further, the mobile app can enable a HealthPartners member to access test results, account balances and track out-of-pocket spending. All information available to members are viewable on the website, desktops, tablets and mobile phones, all optimized to the user.

HealthPartners in the past has not had as many mobile app users as was envisioned, Schnuckle notes, and with the new set of expanded mobile app capabilities the organization hopes to deepen its relationship with members, Schnuckle says. “Most members have at least one prescription so that is an opportunity to open the door and download the app.”

New or enhanced functions include test results not only immediately available to doctors, but also to the members, a flexible spending account tool to take a photo of a receipt and attach the providers’ name and submit for reimbursement, being able to have a prescription sent to a particular pharmacy of the patient’s choice.

In a new enhancement, HealthPartners will enable members with high-cost specialty drugs to see the pricing of specialty pharmacies. The organization also soon will launch an email and text campaign to inform members of the opportunity to save money by using a mail order pharmacy to get a 90-day supply of medications and not having to go to the local pharmacy on a regular basis. “We’re all about making life easier for our members than the competition,” Schnuckle asserts.

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