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UnitedHealthcare to Pass Drug Company Rebates Back to Consumers

Allison Inserro
Amid a rising uproar over drug prices, UnitedHealthcare said Tuesday it will pass along to consumers in employer-based plans the rebates it receives from pharmaceutical companies.
Amid a rising uproar over drug prices, UnitedHealthcare said Tuesday it will pass along to consumers in employer-based plans the rebates it receives from pharmaceutical companies.

The health insurer, whose parent company owns the pharmacy benefit plan OptumRx, said it will expand pharmacy discounts to millions of its plan participants when they fill prescriptions through retail pharmacies or home delivery.  The discounts will apply to over 7 million people enrolled in commercial group benefit plans. Discounts will come at the pharmacy counter at the time of purchase beginning on January 1, 2019.

The savings will apply to plan participants who are filling a prescription for a drug where the manufacturer provides a rebate.

In a statement, HHS Secretary Alex Azar praised the move.

“Today’s announcement by UnitedHealthcare is a prime example of the type of movement toward transparency and lower drug prices for millions of patients that the Trump administration is championing,” Azar said. “Empowering patients and providers with the information and control to put them in the driver’s seat is a key part of our strategy at the Department of Health and Human Services to bring down the price of drugs and make healthcare more affordable. We are already seeing clear momentum toward the type of innovation in the private-sector that will be an important part of the value-based transformation that is coming to America’s healthcare system.”

Dan Schumacher, the president of UnitedHealthcare, told The New York Times that those in plans with high deductibles who buy drugs with large rebates will see the greatest savings.

The Trump administration has previously suggested that the same rebates could be passed on to those in Medicare programs. 

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