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Reducing Patients' Out-of-Pocket Medication Costs Helps Control High Blood Pressure and High Cholesterol

A pill bottle with a one hundred dollar bill as the label.  The bottle is full of various pills, which also lay around the bottle

The Community Preventive Services Task Force (Task Force) found strong scientific evidence that lowering out-of-pocket medication costs for patients with high blood pressure and high cholesterol can help control both conditions. The Task Force based its recommendation on a systematic review of all available studies. The review was conducted, with Task Force oversight, by scientists and subject-matter experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in collaboration with a wide range of government, academic, policy, and practice-based partners.

The Task Force recommends reducing patient out-of-pocket costs for medications to control high blood pressure and high cholesterol when combined with additional interventions aimed at improving patient–provider interaction and patient knowledge, such as team-based care with medication counseling, and patient education. This recommendation is based on strong evidence of effectiveness in improving (1) medication adherence and (2) blood pressure and cholesterol outcomes.

This recommendation can be useful to health care and public health organizations, health providers and others who want to deliver evidence-based care to control patients' high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels. Controlling high blood pressure and high cholesterol is worth focusing on, given that:

  • High blood pressure (CDC External Web Site Icon) and high cholesterol (CDC External Web Site Icon) put those who have them at greater risk for heart disease and stroke, leading causes of death in the United States.
  • Thirty-one percent of American adults–1 in 3– have high blood pressure; of those, only 47% have it under control (CDC External Web Site Icon).
  • Thirty-three percent of American adults– 71 million people– have high LDL, or "bad," cholesterol; only 1 out of 3 has the condition under control (CDC External Web Site Icon).
  • High blood pressure costs the nation about $51.0 billion annually, $47.5 billion of which are direct medical expenses (American Heart Association Adobe PDF File [PDF - 488 kB] External Web Site Icon).

Reducing Out-of-Pocket Costs for Medications to Improve High Blood Pressure and High Cholesterol Control

Reducing out-of-pocket costs for medications to control high blood pressure and high cholesterol involves establishing programs and policies to provide blood pressure and cholesterol-lowering medications at no or reduced cost. This is coordinated through the health care system and may be implemented in clinical or non-clinical settings by health plans, employers, and insurance companies. These programs and policies are commonly combined with team-based care and medication counseling.

The systematic review is pending publication; however, more details are available on The Community Guide website at www.thecommunityguide.org/cvd/ROPC.

The Task Force and The Community Guide

The Community Preventive Services Task Force (Task Force) is an independent, nonfederal, unpaid panel of public health and prevention experts that provides evidence-based findings and recommendations about community preventive programs, services, and policies to improve health. Its members represent a broad range of research, practice, and policy expertise in community preventive services, public health, health promotion, and disease prevention.

The Community Guide is an essential resource for people who want to know what works in public health. It provides evidence-based findings about public health interventions and policies to improve health and promote safety. The reviews and the Task Force findings and recommendations are compiled in The Community Guide.

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