With Cost Study, Group Argues For OTC Benefit

A study by HECON Associates, a Maryland-based market research group, supports the claim that when prescription drugs become available over the counter, consumers face increased out-of-pocket costs.

The study focused on four drugs that recently became available over the counter. Researchers compared OTC costs with what consumers would pay in a mixed managed care/ indemnity plan (such as a private PPO), a typical HMO, and Maryland's Medicaid program. Sharp increases in out-of-pocket expenses were seen when products went to OTC status, due to the lack of an OTC drug benefit: As much as 113 percent in the managed care/indemnity plan, 233 percent in the HMO, and 9,000 percent for the Medicaid group, whose average pharmacy copayment was 13 cents.

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