UnitedHealthcare is launching BrandsPlus Rx, a new cost-effective pharmacy benefit plan that enables small businesses to offer their employees prescription drug coverage that includes higher-cost brand-name medications.
BrandsPlus Rx helps bridge potential coverage gaps by focusing, in part, on more costly brand-name and specialty drugs for which there is no equally effective generic equivalent, and which may be out of reach financially for some employees. These include medicines to treat asthma, diabetes, and other serious conditions such as HIV, hepatitis C and multiple sclerosis.
In addition, BrandsPlus Rx helps make prescription drug coverage more affordable by encouraging health plan customers to use, where available, the growing number of low-cost, over-the-counter options and generic medicines through “$4 generic programs” offered by many retail pharmacies. For example, a person taking Lipitor, a brand-name, cholesterol-lowering drug, would pay a $65 copay for one month’s supply, but can save $61 per month – or more than $700 a year – by switching to the $4 generic Pravastatin. UnitedHealthcare found that more than 25 percent of its processed prescription claims had $4 generic alternatives available*.
BrandsPlus Rx costs employers about half as much as UnitedHealthcare’s traditional pharmacy benefit plan for small businesses, and is price-competitive with other generic-only plans available in the market. BrandsPlus Rx is available now to small businesses in Arizona, Arkansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Wisconsin.
“We created BrandsPlus Rx to help small businesses get the most out of their health insurance investment, while providing the security of pharmacy benefit insurance to their employees,” said Tim Heady, CEO, UnitedHealth Pharmaceutical Solutions. “Today, many small businesses looking for savings may be compelled to provide pharmacy benefit plans that cover only generic drugs or drop drug coverage altogether. BrandsPlus Rx is our solution that allows employers to offer their employees more affordable, broader prescription-drug coverage.”
BrandsPlus Rx features a four-tier copayment structure – vs. the traditional three-tier model – to help plan participants choose prescription drugs that are more cost-effective, and provides financial incentives for people who choose medicines that offer similar results at more affordable prices.
“For a number of conditions, including cholesterol management, depression and hypertension, there is a wide range of effective low-cost generics available. The widespread pharmacy discount programs provide affordable access to many generics,” Heady said.
UnitedHealthcare offers resources that support employers and their employees in making better decisions about their prescriptions. Enrollment and education materials, online price estimators, a pharmacy locator and 24/7 phone support help employees better understand and maximize the value of their pharmacy benefits. In addition, UnitedHealthcare health plan customers have access to a national network of more than 60,000 pharmacies.
UnitedHealthcare 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. The company organizes access to quality, affordable health care services on behalf of approximately 25 million individual consumers, contracting directly with more than 600,000 physicians and care professionals and 5,000 hospitals to offer them broad, convenient access to services nationwide. UnitedHealthcare is one of the businesses of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), a diversified Fortune 50 health and well-being company.T