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Survey Report

Pharmacy management — high-performance insights

2017 Willis Towers Watson Best Practices in Health Care Employer Survey

Health and Benefits

February 1, 2018

The 2017 Willis Towers Watson Best Practices in Health Care Employer Survey shares employers’ current actions and future plans for employer-sponsored health benefits.

Employers proactively manage pharmacy benefit costs

Employers take more aggressive steps to curb pharmacy costs and utilization, and they’ve turned their focus in particular on the skyrocketing specialty drug prices.

The top three pharmacy strategies are:

  1. Benchmark pharmacy costs; proactively collect and compare data.
  2. Evaluate pharmacy benefit contract terms.
  3. Identify opportunities to manage specialty pharmacy spending, including adopting new restrictions, and addressing cost and utilization performance.

Ultimately, for all pharmacy benefits, employers need a comprehensive approach that’s integrated with the medical plan in order to more effectively manage rising cost and the high pace of change related to drug innovation.

Key survey findings

Employers proactively manage their pharmacy spend.

Employers focus on specialty drugs, which is set to surge by 2019.

Best pharmacy practices

Our research shows a great disparity in the total cost of health care across all companies, with the national company average per employee per year (PEPY) at $12,201 versus the companies that pay the highest for health care (high-cost companies) at an average of $13,533 PEPY. Notably, 47 survey employers distinguished their health benefits in 2017 by having more-efficient programs and holding cost to an average $9,950 (an advantage of more than $2,000 PEPY over the national average and $3,500 over high-cost companies). Employers at all performance levels looking to manage their pharmacy spend can emulate their actions.

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