Social Determinants of Health - New Resources in 2022

Social Determinants of Health - New Resources in 2022
Ann Nagle, PharmD, MPH, M Health Fairview - Entira Family Clinics

Affordability of medications is often a reason for referral to Medication Therapy Management (MTM) services. What may be uncovered in these MTM visits is that multiple social determinants of health (SDOH) are often impacting patient access to medications and contributing to complex healthy lifestyle choices. For some patients, balancing pharmacy copays with grocery budgets and housing payments is a difficult reality. In addition to housing and food access, other areas of SDOH impacting access to medications include transportation, education, job opportunities, discrimination, pollution, language, literacy, and neighborhood safety. While some patients qualify for Patient Assistance Programs or coupon cards for expensive brand name medications, the process may be challenging to navigate and time-consuming. Two new programs in the new year aim to help patients with both food access (FarmboxRx) and reduced-cost medications (Mark Cuban Cost Plus Drug Company).

FarmboxRx is a grocery delivery benefit that is being rolled out by HealthPartners Minnesota Senior Health Options (MSHO) plans in 2022. It is one HealthPartners insurance benefit aimed at Minnesota Seniors adding to other food insecurity partnerships including PowerUp, SuperShelf, and Hunger Solutions.  Starting February 2022 and running through December 2022, HealthPartners MSHO patients who would like to opt-in to receive fresh produce and nutritional education materials sent to their home must simply call FarmboxRx at 1-888-416-3589. FarmboxRx will verify the benefit with the patient’s name and insurance information. Once their eligibility has been determined, patients may opt to receive one or two boxes of produce per month delivered on the 2nd and/or 4th weeks of each month. 

Mark Cuban (Yes, THAT Mark Cuban of Shark Tank and Dallas Mavericks fame) has partnered with a generic drug startup to provide reduced-cost medications to patients across the United States. Mark Cuban Cost Plus Drug Company has been established as a medication wholesaler which purchases medications and sells them directly to patients at 15% of the wholesale price. Prescriptions may be sent via electronic medical record, phone, fax, or mail. Currently, the pharmacy does not bill through insurance and requires patients to pay out of pocket for medications before being shipped to their home. Though there are some notable medications such as Zetia, Plavix, Prograf, Gleevec and Epzicom that are offered at lower price points, the formulary is limited. For example, diabetes medications are restricted to metformin, glipizide, and glimepiride. As for asthma and COPD, only albuterol inhalers are available. There are forms for patients to request expansion of the formulary, so as this pharmacy grows, there is potential for more of these medications to be included.

References:

  1. HealthPartners. HealthPartners adds FarmboxRx benefit to improve access to healthy food for seniors. https://www.healthpartners.com/hp/about/press-releases/hp-adds-farmboxrx-benefit-to-improve-access-to-healthy-food-for-seniors.html. Published December 17, 2021. Accessed January 8, 2022.
  2. HealthPartners. PowerUp. https://www.powerup4kids.org/Home. Published 2022. Accessed February 8, 2022.
  3. University of Minnesota. SuperShelf. https://www.supershelfmn.org/. Published 2019. Accessed February 8, 2022.
  4. Hunger Solutions. https://www.hungersolutions.org/. Published 2022. Accessed February 8, 2022.
  5. Skores, Alexandra. Mark Cuban’s online pharmacy is now open with low-cost prescription drugs. The Dallas Morning News. https://www.dallasnews.com/business/2022/01/19/mark-cubans-online-pharmacy-is-now-open-with-low-cost-prescription-drugs/. Published January 19, 2022. Accessed January 20, 2022.
  6. Mark Cuban Cost Plus Drug Company. https://costplusdrugs.com/. Published 2022. Accessed January 20, 2022.