In Midst Of Outrage Over Prices, UnitedHealth Announces It Will Pass On Drug Rebates To Customers
Typically, pharmaceutical drugmakers pay rebates to win reimbursement coverage for their medicines and insurers use these rebates to lower their own costs and keep a lid on premiums.
The New York Times:
UnitedHealthcare Says It Will Pass On Rebates From Drug Companies To Consumers
In response to growing consumer frustration over drug prices, UnitedHealthcare, one of the nation’s largest health insurers, said on Tuesday that it would stop keeping millions of dollars in discounts it gets from drug companies and share them with its customers. Dan Schumacher, the president of UnitedHealthcare, said the new policy will apply to more than seven million people who are enrolled in the company’s fully insured plans, beginning next year. “The benefit could range from a few dollars to hundreds of dollars to over a thousand,” Mr. Schumacher said. (Abelson, 3/6)
The Associated Press:
UnitedHealthcare To Pass Drug Rebates On To Some Customers
UnitedHealthcare said Tuesday it will let people covered by certain employer-sponsored health plans collect rebates when they fill prescriptions or at the point of sale. Those rebates could amount to a few bucks or several hundred dollars, depending on the drug. Drugmakers frequently give rebates for prescription drugs, but those discounts rarely flow directly to the people filling prescriptions. How these rebates are used has become a growing source of debate in recent years as the cost of some treatments has soared. The Pharmacy Benefit Management Institute says insurers and employers most often use the money to reduce overall plan costs. (Murphy, 3/6)
The Washington Post:
UnitedHealthcare Will Provide Drug Rebates Directly To Members In Some Plans
UnitedHealthcare said the policy, which would begin next year, would lower out-of-pocket costs for 7 million people enrolled in fully insured commercial group benefit plans. Health-care-policy specialists noted that the effects for individuals covered by those plans would vary, depending on which drugs they take, how big the rebates are and the structure of their health benefit. (Johnson, 3/6)
UnitedHealthcare Will Pass Some Rebates To Consumers, But Will It Help?
Interestingly, the UnitedHealthcare move was announced after federal officials disclosed they would consider requiring insurers to use a fixed percentage of their rebates to reduce out-of-pocket prescription costs for Part D patients. As the Journal noted, several insurers, including UnitedHealthcare, and pharmacy benefit managers, have opposed the idea and argue they will be forced to raise premiums. (Silverman, 3/6)
In other news from the company —
UnitedHealth Joins Bids For Envision Unit
UnitedHealth Group Inc. has joined the bidding for a unit of Envision Healthcare Corp., the health-services provider under pressure from activist investor Starboard Value, according to people familiar with the matter. Envision has attracted interest from health insurer UnitedHealth for its ambulatory services unit, said the people, who asked not to be identified as the details aren’t public. Separate groups of private equity firms, including a consortium comprised of Hellman & Friedman, Onex Corp. and Clayton Dubilier & Rice, as well as one led by Carlyle Group LP, are still interested in buying the whole company but would also be open to acquiring parts, the people said. (Deveau and Porter, 3/6)