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02-01-2024

The survey of the health insurance funds: do Lithuanians purchase and use medicines wisely?

Only every fourth resident in the country knows all the recommendations on how to buy reimbursed medicines without overpaying for them, and knowledge of how to cover the patient’s premium for medicines is even worse. In addition, according to a sociological survey, two out of three households accumulate stocks of medicines that are no longer used and have to be disposed of. The health insurance funds remind you how to buy and use reimbursed medicines rationally and responsibly, so that neither your health nor your wallet suffers.

Rational use is defined as the use of medicines where, for the optimal period of treatment, a patient receives individual doses of the medicines most appropriate for his or her clinical condition and the cost of treatment is minimized for both the patient and society.

World Health Organization (WHO) indicates that 1 in 4 households with the lowest income face unbearable health care costs. By age group, the cost of medicines is unbearable for people aged over 60, and rational use of medicines can bring huge benefits to health, patient’s and state finances.

How not to overpay?

The latest sociological survey of population awareness, which was conducted by the market and public opinion research company Spinter Research on behalf of the National Health Insurance Fund under the Ministry of Health, showed that as many as 30% of the respondents do not know how to avoid overpaying for reimbursed medicines in pharmacies.

The same proportion of respondents - 30% - are aware that a pharmacist must show on a computer all medicines from different manufacturers with the same active ingredient. 23% of respondents say that a pharmacist should first offer the reimbursed medicine with the lowest premium. 7% said that if a pharmacy does not have the medicine with the lowest premium available that day, a pharmacist must order it.

The procedure for the basket of premiums for reimbursed medicines, which came into force last July, is very poorly known. Only 8% of respondents indicate that when purchasing reimbursed medicines with the lowest premium during a calendar year, the premium basket is accumulated and the patient’s premium for these medicines is subsequently covered by the state once the sum of EUR 48.36 has been accumulated.

Only 32 % of the respondents know that all the answers listed are correct.

Every third person is aware of patient’s premium cover

The survey showed that residents’ knowledge of who is covered by state funds for the patient’s premium for medicines and medical aids is even poorer. As many as 43% of respondents could not answer this question.

18 % of the respondents think that patient’s premium for medicines is covered for people insured with compulsory health insurance and aged 75 and over. 12 % - for insured persons recognized as disabled with low insurable income. 6 % - for insured persons who have reached old age pension age and have low insurable income.

Only 31% of respondents correctly indicate that all the answers given are correct.

Disposed of due to improper use 

According to WHO data, more than half of all medicines in the world are prescribed, dispensed or sold inappropriately, and half of patients take medicines incorrectly. If medicines were purchased and used rationally, there would be no accumulation of out-of-date medicines at home and no waste of patient’s and state funds.

Sociological survey shows that as many as two thirds (66%) of respondents stockpile expired medicines in their household, and three in five (60%) respondents stockpile medicines because they always try to keep the most important medicines in the household.

Interestingly, 23% of the surveyed residents report that they accumulate medicines if they do not feel any improvement and stop taking them. Another 19% say they are taking fewer medicines than prescribed by their doctor. Another 18% stop taking medicines immediately after feeling better and after side effects occur. 10% say they always buy reimbursed medicines, although they do not always take them. 7% give other reasons.

The principles of rational use of medicines state that if a medicine is prescribed by a doctor, it is necessary. In addition, medicines must be taken strictly according to doctor’s instructions: a prescribed dose, frequency and intervals of administration, interaction with food and other medicines, and the course of administration. Medicines must not be discontinued without consulting a doctor, even if you feel better. Even mild side effects (which usually pass quickly) should be discussed with a prescribing doctor. This ensures that a patient takes all the prescribed medications.

The health insurance funds remind you not to store unnecessary or expired medicines at home or throw them in a rubbish bin. This not only increases environmental pollution but also the risk of poisoning. Pharmaceutical waste should be handed over to pharmacies, which will pass it on to specialized companies for proper treatment.

(Freepic photo)

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