UnitedHealth Group, a Minneapolis-based healthcare company, recently announced that it would soon provide a price break to members who correctly use certain asthma and antidepressant drugs. The news was reported in a Wall Street Journal article by Peter Loftus of Dow Jones Newswires.
To get the $20 copay discount, members must refill their prescriptions within about 30 days after their last prescription runs out. Eligible drugs include GlaxoSmithKline’s Advair, AstraZeneca’s Symbicort, Eli Lilly’s Cymbalta, Wyeth’s Effexor XR, and Wyeth’s Pristiq. The discount applies to members who have a normal copay of $50 on these drugs, meaning the new copay would be $30, according to Loftus’ article.
The idea of rewarding patients who adhere to their prescribed medications is a win-win situation. The patient is able to continue his drug regimen and get the treatment he needs—while saving some money. In the current economy where some patients are discontinuing their prescriptions because of cost, this financial motivation is especially important. The insurance company is able promote the patient’s health and, theoretically, save money in the long run by preventing the patient from becoming more sick and then requiring additional medical care or medication.
Asthma and antidepressant drugs make perfect sense for this type of plan because a lack of necessary medication or a gap in a medication regimen can negatively affect the patient’s health. If this plan works, UnitedHealth and other health insurance companies may consider expanding the program to those individuals on medication for diabetes and other long-term conditions that need to be controlled in order to reduce the risk of complications.