Upstate’s Multi-Billion Dollar Health Improvement Opportunity

upstate's multi-billion dollar health improvement opportunity

Upstate New York adults who fail to adhere to their prescription medications as directed by their physicians risk their health and add billions of dollars in avoidable health care costs annually, according to an analysis by Univera Healthcare.

“The opportunity for health improvement and cost savings is astounding,” said Mona Chitre, Pharm.D., Univera Healthcare vice president and chief pharmacy officer.

Univera Healthcare reviewed data on upstate New York adults living with high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol and depression. These four conditions were selected because of their prevalence, the availability of safe and effective medication therapies, and the established link between medication non-adherence and adverse outcomes.

“Hundreds of thousands of upstate New Yorkers who have these four conditions are not getting the real benefit of their medicines,” Chitre said.

An estimated 388,000 upstate New York adults who are non-adherent with their blood pressure medicines add an estimated $1.5 billion to the region’s direct medical costs annually.

Of the 1.5 million upstate New York adults who have high cholesterol, nearly 500,000 (about one-third) do not take prescribed medication as directed.

Improving prescription adherence among upstate New York adults by just 5 percent and 10 percent would result in aggregate, direct medical cost savings of:

  • $176.0 million to $352.1 million for high blood pressure
  • $64.1 million to $128.1 million for high cholesterol
  • $54.5 million to $109.0 million for diabetes
  • $8.8 million to $17.7 million for depression

“Non-adherence is not unique to upstate New York,” Chitre said. “What will help is providing more education on the issue to patients and their family members, physicians, pharmacists, insurers, community organizations and employers.”

Barriers to medication adherence include affordability, forgetfulness, concerns about side effects, complexity of directions, lack of knowledge, etc. Find tips to overcome these barriers at