Cost Sharing is Costing Skin Patients their Medication


After spending time and money to see a dermatologist, many patients with acne fail to fill their prescription. Cost sharing is the culprit, according to a recently published study.

Researchers learned that, even though patients anticipated that the co-pay for their prescription might be high, they were loath to share this concern during their doctor’s visit. Patients also revealed that they weren’t sure their doctor was equipped to talk about their cost concerns.

Yet being forewarned about the out-of-pocket cost for their medication and talking through more affordable alternatives, if necessary, made patients more likely to adhere to their treatment, the study found.

For their patients’ sake, doctors might brush up on cost details – and initiate the conversation.

“Doctors must not assume that cost of care is out of our purview,” said Jules Lipoff, M.D., an assistant professor of clinical dermatology and coauthor. “On the contrary, doctors must remember our responsibility to consider the whole patient, including his or her financial livelihood, and make a point of bringing up cost of care with each of our patients.”

Acne affects as many as 50 million people. Untreated, it can affect a patient’s ability to function at work, school, home, or other social situations, according to a Derma Care Access Network policy brief.

However, doctors have the opportunity – and responsibility – to ensure their prescribed course of care suits each patient. This includes both the medication and its co-pay.


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