Guest blog by George L. Oestreich, Pharm.D., MPA
We see patients daily in our practices that are either uninsured or underinsured. It becomes more difficult daily to find resources that can support their care outside of the organized healthcare system. While pharmacists can greatly assist in wellness, early disease identification and disease management is all but impossible if the patient does not have reasonable healthcare coverage. Our patients respect us as healthcare providers and we are by far the most accessible. That is true too in making positive choices in healthcare insurance coverage. In fact, according to a 2013 study conducted by Lake Research Partners for Enroll America, health care providers are among the most effective messengers for communicating the importance of health insurance, especially to young adults.
As pharmacists, we understand the needs of our patients, and can provide those individuals with tangible, easy-to-understand examples about their health and health care options. For instance, through cost-sharing reductions and other provisions outlined in the ACA, prescription medication is now more affordable for lower income individuals who may not have previously been able to afford insurance or would avoid filling their prescriptions due to cost. These provisions can help individuals pay out of pocket costs like deductibles and co-payments, but are not easily understood.
As more and more Missourians continue to get covered, we are uniquely positioned to provide our patients with unbiased and factual information, especially to newly insured individuals. It is an exciting time to expand our outreach and more thoroughly use our skills and training to help new and existing patients stay on top of their health, and take advantage of preventive medicine.
Please use these last few days of first year enrollment to facilitate more Missourians to seek health insurance coverage. A health insurance covered patient with a well-trained pharmacist will be a team that can make a significant and positive difference in healthcare status. The end of March is but weeks away. Please act now to make sure all of your patients choose to obtain healthcare insurance! To access plain-language educational materials, tools and other expert resources you can use to help inform others, please visit www.covermissouri.org.
The Cover Missouri Coalition – a project of the Missouri Foundation for Health – seeks to educate Missourians about the important benefits of health care coverage by providing accurate, unbiased information about the new health care law.