UnitedHealthcare has launched a health plan innovation that offers $20 discounts off certain prescription drug co-payments for plan participants who refill their medications on a timely basis.
The Refill and Save Program, which includes asthma drugs Advair and Symbicort, and antidepressants Cymbalta, Effexor XR and Pristiq, reduces a customer’s co-payment for refills of these drugs by $20 – a 40-percent savings on a typical co-payment plan. Health plan participants who refill their prescriptions via mail order will receive a $50 discount on a 90-day supply of medicine, with a refill deadline of approximately 120 days. Initial prescriptions of the medicines will not be eligible for the discounted co-pay as the program is focused on encouraging timely refills of needed medications.
The Refill and Save Program is reportedly available to most of UnitedHealthcare’s fully insured commercial health plan participants and is said to be the first of its kind.
“Patients with chronic diseases such as asthma and depression who take their medicines regularly and who comply with prescribed treatments are likely to stay healthier. They not only feel better, they can potentially avoid costly medical problems that could result from delaying appropriate therapy,” said Tim Heady, CEO of UnitedHealth Pharmaceutical Solutions. “The Refill and Save Program is another example of UnitedHealthcare’s focus on helping people enhance their overall health and well-being while helping to reduce health care costs.”
Asthma drugs and antidepressants were selected for the program because the health benefits realized from increased adherence are often seen relatively quickly, according to Heady. “We anticipate that increased pharmacy costs that result from wider utilization will be offset by savings in medical costs,” he added.
UnitedHealthcare estimates that approximately 50 percent of its customers who take asthma medicines and 20 percent of its customers who take antidepressants are not compliant with their prescriptions. To ensure eligible plan participants are aware of this new opportunity to save money and improve their health, UnitedHealthcare is alerting eligible customers through a mailing, providing details of the program online at www.myuhc.com, and encouraging pharmacists to talk to their customers.
“Research has clearly shown that individuals are more sensitive than ever to the cost of their medications given the current economy,” said Dr. Mark Fendrick, director of the Center for Value Based Insurance Design at the University of Michigan. “I was excited to learn UnitedHealthcare is offering such an innovative program that rewards patients for being adherent to their medication by reducing their co-pay when they are compliant, which improves adherence and ultimately their health.”
UnitedHealthcare (www.unitedhealthcare.com) provides a full spectrum of consumer-oriented health benefit plans and services to individuals, public sector employers and businesses of all sizes, including more than half of the Fortune 100 companies. UnitedHealthcare is one of the businesses of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), a diversified Fortune 50 health and well-being company.