United Healthcare announced that it will expand a program that will connect consumers directly to drug discounts. This move could lower costs for those who struggle with high deductibles and other out-of-pocket expenses. This plan will take effect next year and will be required for all new employer clients. However, existing clients are permitted to continue under the older system. When their contract needs to be renewed, those clients will be encouraged to switch to the new plan, but not required to.
Anger over drug prices continues to grow, and pharmaceutical companies and insurers are increasingly pointing fingers at one another. Drug companies accuse insurers of profiting from their share of the rebates they collect, and insurers say the manufacturers are the ones who decide what a drug costs. Both industries have come under scrutiny and have struggled to show that they’re addressing the issue.
United analyzed employers who have voluntarily adopted similar programs and the results show that consumers are more likely to fill their prescriptions, which can improve their health. The company also stated that the existing voluntary program, which began this year, has already lowered drug costs for consumers by an average of $130 per eligible prescription.