A study of the additional costs of dispensing workers' compensation prescriptions

Kenneth W Schafermeyer
Research in Social & Administrative Pharmacy: RSAP 2007, 3 (1): 123-36

BACKGROUND: Although there is a significant amount of additional work involved in dispensing workers' compensation prescriptions, these costs have not been quantified. A study of the additional costs to dispense a workers' compensation prescription is needed to measure actual costs and to help determine the reasonableness of reimbursement for prescriptions dispensed under workers' compensation programs.

OBJECTIVES: The purpose of this study was to determine the minimum additional time and costs required to dispense workers' compensation prescriptions in Texas.

METHODS: A convenience sample of 30 store-level pharmacy staff members involved in submitting and processing prescription claims for the Texas Mutual workers' compensation program were interviewed by telephone. Data collected to determine the additional costs of dispensing a workers' compensation prescription included (1) the amount of additional time and personnel costs required to dispense and process an average workers' compensation prescription claim, (2) the difference in time required for a new versus a refilled prescription, (3) overhead costs for processing workers' compensation prescription claims by experienced experts at a central processing facility, (4) carrying costs for workers' compensation accounts receivable, and (5) bad debts due to uncollectible workers' compensation claims.

RESULTS: The median of the sample pharmacies' additional costs for dispensing a workers' compensation prescription was estimated to be at least $9.86 greater than for a cash prescription.

CONCLUSIONS: This study shows that the estimated costs for workers' compensation prescriptions were significantly higher than for cash prescriptions. These costs are probably much more than most employers, workers' compensation payers, and pharmacy managers would expect. It is recommended that pharmacy managers should estimate their own costs and compare these costs to actual reimbursement when considering the reasonableness of workers' compensation prescriptions and whether to accept these prescriptions.

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