As Part of Workers' Compensation Health Initiative, Prescription Card is Made Available to New York State Workers-But Few Use it

Design, implementation, and evaluation of an integrated prescription drug program for NY State employees

From 1996 to 2001, staff from State of New York Department of Civil Service created a single prescription card—called ONECARD Rx—that state workers could use for medications for their work- and non-work-related illnesses and injuries.

Project staff also conducted an evaluation to assess the effectiveness of the ONECARD Rx program, and examine why, as it turned out, participation levels were so low.

The project was part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Workers' Compensation Health Initiative national program.

Key Results

  • As of July 1999, the prescription benefit had been implemented in the three largest of the 27 participating health plans, making it available to more than 200,000 employees.

  • During the 18 months covered by the evaluation, the card was used by only 4 percent of workers (382 workers) who bought prescriptions for accident-related injuries, a rate far lower than originally anticipated.

Evaluation Findings

  • Lack of knowledge about ONECARD Rx was the primary reason for non-use.

  • If all of the drugs reimbursed by the State Insurance Fund (the state's workers' compensation carrier) had been purchased via ONECARD Rx, total prescription costs would have been reduced by 30–36 percent.

  • Prices paid for prescription drugs under ONECARD Rx were significantly lower than those paid for by the State Insurance Fund, but essentially the same as those paid by other health plans.

  • ONECARD Rx users were more satisfied with their prescription benefit than were non-users.