Impact on insurance of medication adherence

In a perfect world, there would be only infallible people, and we would not have to worry about people adhering to medication. Unfortunately, in this world, far from perfect, some make mistakes; some forget to take medication, some forget the advice of doctors, and others use medications other than prescribed. Still others deliberately choose to ignore regimens prescribed by physicians.

The economic costs of non-adherence globally run into hundreds of USD billions, not to mention the wider societal and individual costs. Institutional inequality over availability of medications, multiple hoops blocking access to services, long wait times; all of these factors mean patients are less likely to adhere to prescribed therapies.

The Swiss Re Institute released a challenging publication on "The impact of medication adherence on insurance" today. Corinne Fitzgerald, researcher at Swiss Re Institute and lead author, highlighted "how institutional, societal and behavioural barriers combine to drive unacceptably high levels of non-adherence.  Successful strategies need to consider the perspectives and motivations of patients and carers; otherwise we will continue to see marked disparity in health outcomes."

Moreover, non-adherence generates stifling costs for insurers and for insureds alike, as poor management of illness leads to critical levels of co-morbidity and reduced likelihood of returning to work. Shifting to a technology-enabled partnership model centred on individuals' health can promote better management of conditions to the mutual benefit of the patient, their carers and the insurer. Dan Ryan, Head of Insurance Risk Research at Swiss Re Institute stressed that "the interests of re/insurers are aligned with better health outcomes, and re/insurers can be key supporters in helping individuals visualise the benefits of appropriate adherence."

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