NASHVILLE, Tenn., Sept. 26 HealthLeaders-InterStudy, theleading provider of managed care market intelligence, reports that healthinsurers in Virginia, Maryland and Washington D.C. (Mid-Atlantic region) arelooking to reduce pharma costs. According to the latest Mid-Atlantic HealthPlan Analysis, multiple strategies, including tiered pricing, no copays forgeneric drugs and robotic prescription fulfillment, are being employed to helpcontrol pharmacy expenses.
According to the report, average weighted pharmacy expenses for Mid-Atlantic plans rose from $26 to $33 per member, per month from 2004 to 2006.Most large commercial insurers saw their pharmacy costs increase in the Mid-Atlantic anywhere from 8 percent to 14 percent.
Health plans are continuing to experiment with innovative ways to controlmembers' drug costs by focusing on copay waivers, strategies and technology.Aetna introduced "Save a Copay," a member incentive that waives the copay forcholesterol-lowering generic drug for six months. CIGNA has its own in-housemail-order operation, CIGNATel-Drug, which is tied to its drug cost comparisontool. By going to myCIGNA.com, members can compare costs of their medicationsat nearby pharmacies with their personal benefits factored in. KaiserPermanente offers members the convenience of online ordering and uses roboticsat their central fill, which allows them to process prescriptions at highvolume.
"Health plans have approached the problem of high drug costs with creativestrategies and innovative automation, but ultimately the solution to highcosts in healthcare is a strong move toward wellness and prevention," said JanShuxteau, market analyst for HealthLeaders-InterStudy. "This is good news forconsumers and health plans, especially in areas such as the Mid-Atlantic wherepharmacy costs are still rising and the outlook for savings is good."
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