Elizabeth Daigneau is GOVERNING's managing editor.E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
While everyone else is paying more for their drug prescriptions and growing increasingly dissatisfied with their health coverage, Maricopa County, Ariz., employees are paying less and growing more satisfied.
While everyone else is paying more for their drug prescriptions and growing increasingly dissatisfied with their health coverage, Maricopa County, Ariz., employees are paying less and growing more satisfied. Last year, Maricopa County reduced employees' total pharmacy costs by 2.44 percent. In fact in 2006 and 2007, the county's pharmacy increases have been at least 6.1 percent below industry trends, and that's largely due to the program's higher-than-national use of generic drugs. The county's generic drug utilization comprises about 72 percent of all prescriptions filled, which is achieved by offering a lower cost to members taking generic drugs, allowing members to obtain up to a 90-day supply either by mail or through a network of pharmacies, and offering a pharmacy benefit option that features a pharmacy account and deductible prior to a traditional coinsurance benefit applying. As a result, employee satisfaction increased from 77 percent in 2003 to 86 percent in 2007. Employee satisfaction with the county's health coverage is even higher -- 96 percent. By investing in employee education and aggressive wellness programs, Maricopa County has achieved a downward trend in health costs over the past 7 years. For example, the county opened a free gym that is open 24 hours every day, and if employees accept additional personal responsibility -- weight management or smoking cessation, for example, their medical care costs will be reduced. In addition, the county initiated a diabetic management program that pays a substantial part of an employee's medical costs. The Employee Health Initiative, which covers more than 30,000 employees and their dependents, has achieved greater savings with its pharmacy benefit than other cities and counties participating in the same plan. To learn more about the county's success, e-mail Diane Golat, Maricopa County's health care program manager.