Passing prescription drug manufacturer rebates – or discounts – directly to consumers is one way to make saving money on health care a reality. And what if those discounts were automatically applied at checkout?
Millions of UnitedHealthcare members already have access to this convenience since the launch of a new prescription drug discount program in January, which has saved people an average of $130 per eligible prescription. Now, UnitedHealthcare and OptumRx are expanding the program. Specifically, for new business proposals beginning January 2020, OptumRx and UnitedHealthcare will only support new employer clients that incorporate point-of-sale discounts to consumers as part of their plan design.
How does it work? When a member in a fully insured group benefit plan goes to the pharmacy to fill a prescription, UnitedHealthcare’s system automatically identifies whether the drug is eligible for a rebate, or discount, from the drug manufacturer. If the drug is eligible for a rebate, the drug cost is adjusted to reflect the rebate value, reducing the member’s out-of-pocket cost. As long as a rebate is available for the drug, the member will continue to receive these savings during the deductible or coinsurance phase of their plan.
The program expansion builds on UnitedHealthcare’s announcement last year to directly deliver pharmacy discounts its fully insured group members who fill prescriptions for a drug with an available rebate through retail pharmacies or home delivery. While early results show that members are benefiting from drug manufacturer rebates in the form of real-time cost savings at the pharmacy, improved health is another important outcome.
Convenient and affordable access to prescription drugs makes it easier for people to stick with their medication routines. UnitedHealthcare data analytics show that when consumers do not have a deductible or large out-of-pocket costs, medication adherence improves by between 4 and 16 percent, leading to better individual health and lower health care costs overall.
“Patients are seeing concrete benefits from UnitedHealthcare’s groundbreaking point-of-sale discount program, which is just one element in our aggressive drive to help deliver better health, lower costs and a better experience,” said Daniel J. Schumacher, president and chief operating officer of UnitedHealthcare. “Together with employer partners and OptumRx, UnitedHealthcare has taken innovative action, bringing real value to consumers while mitigating the impact of persistent drug price inflation brought on by drug manufacturers affecting consumers’ ability to afford medications and comply with their physician’s treatment plans.”
Expanding access to prescription drug discounts is another way to help consumers get more value from their pharmacy benefits and ultimately improve their personal health. The company previously introduced PreCheck MyScript, a real-time prescription coverage tool that lets doctors find out if a medication requires prior authorization and view member out-of-pocket costs in real-time.