EMPLOYERS OFFERING FREE DRUGS
February 22, 2007
A number of employers are now giving away drugs to help workers manage chronic conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma and depression, to help reduce long-term health costs, says Milt Freudenheim in the New York Times.
- Mohawk Industries carpet factory signed up about 200 of the 750 employees for free blood pressure and heart drugs last summer after the company held meetings to describe the benefits of lowering blood pressure and cholesterol.
- Eastman Chemical is offering free mammograms for its workers and free vaccines for employees' children, and also provides free drugs and supplies for diabetics under its health plan.
- The state of Maine recently started offering free drugs and supplies to employees with diabetes who take part in a face-to-face interview with nurse educators and agree to a year of follow-up telephone sessions.
The free drug programs are being adopted in hopes of countering the rising costs, taking their place alongside other steps by some employers that have included opening or expanding health clinics in their factories and offices, and offering checkups and medicines at no cost or for a modest co-payment, says Freudenheim.
For people with serious health problems, free medicine is an incentive to stay with their prescribed regimens and to keep in touch with nurses and pharmacists who monitor changes in their weight, blood pressure and other vital signs.
Additionally, says Freudenheim, businesses wishing to stave off a greater government involvement in health insurance are pushing change now even as most presidential candidates and other politicians are promoting health care reform.
Source: Milt Freudenheim, "Some Employers Are Offering Free Drugs," New York Times, February 21, 2007.
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