Confronted with increasing pharmaceutical costs and rapidly rising health insurance premiums, insurers are turning to creative approaches to better control costs. Convincing customers to purchase generic drugs instead of more expensive brand-name products is a top priority. In the face of billion-dollar marketing campaigns by pharmaceutical manufacturers, the use of generic drugs is decreasing in many states.

In Michigan, Blue Cross Blue Shield sponsored and produced a $1 million advertising campaign for the pharmacy that realized the most success in convincing customers to switch to generic drugs, according to an article in Marketing Health Services.

Insurers and their corporate clients must increasingly partner to educate healthcare consumers on the best ways to contain costs, according to Circadian Technologies. In the case of Blue Cross Blue Shield in Michigan, the insurer was surprised to find that "not only would our customers accept information from us promoting the safety, effectiveness and cost savings related to the generics, but they saw it as our job to do just that."

Corporate benefits managers must continue to push their health insurers to undertake aggressive outreach efforts designed to contain out-of-control costs. The annual healthcare costs for extended-hours employees (those who work outside traditional "9 to 5" hours) are significantly higher than their day-working counterparts. Insurers and their clients must better educate this workforce on the steps extended-hours employees can take to improve their health, says David Mitchell of Circadian Technologies.