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The University of Iowa Health Care initiative aims to reduce the expense of escalating prescription drugs



Iowa City, Iowa – As prescription drug costs continue to grow, a staff at the University of Iowa Health Care is dedicated to assisting patients in finding discounts on these medications.
The staff makes an effort to assist people who are having financial difficulties paying for their prescription drugs. The pharmacy and social services sections of the hospital are combined to form UIHC’s Medication Assistance Center.

“Today I routinely deal with patients with medications that are more than $10,000 a month, which is just amazing to me,” Wendy Ostrem, a pharmacist with the Medication Assistance Center, said.

They make an effort to assist UIHC patients who lack insurance or have inadequate coverage. The team views patients who are unable to pay the copay for their prescription drugs as underinsured.
To help offset these expenses, the center makes use of a range of resources, including assistance grants, coupons, and more. According to the team, they saved their patients over $69 million last year.

“Our job is to identify patients who are having some financial concerns about the cost of their medications and then working with a lot of different resources that we have to hopefully help them lower the cost,” Ostrem said.

Although only UIHC patients are eligible for the program, Ostrem advises consumers to speak with their pharmacists or other healthcare providers to find out about any potential price reductions.

”If patients are followed by local providers, they could potentially do some of these same things on their own or with the help of their provider to lower their costs,” Ostrem said.

Since the group’s founding more than 20 years ago, they have enjoyed lending a hand to individuals in need.

“It’s awesome, it’s part of what I got into being a pharmacist for, to help people,” Ostrem said.

The team’s annual patient savings have improved significantly over the years; a decade ago, they were only saving $7.9 million. According to the institute, this is mostly due to rising prescription medicine prices.