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Health insurer to pass drug rebates on to some customers

(AP Photo)

The nation’s largest health insurer planned to give some customers a break at the pharmacy counter starting next year.

UnitedHealthcare said Tuesday that it will pass along rebates from drug
manufacturers to customers when they fill a prescription.

In Arizona, UnitedHealthcare Community Plan covers Medicaid, which includes Kids Care, but the plan does not apply to the insurer’s individual coverage or to insurance offered through most large employers.

UnitedHealthcare’s rebate plan will apply to about 7 million people who have fully insured coverage through an employer.

That’s a relatively small slice of business for an insurer that covers more than 49 million people.

The rebates could amount to a few bucks or several hundred dollars, depending on the drug.

Drugmakers frequently give rebates for prescription drugs, but those discounts
rarely flow directly to people filling the prescriptions.

How these rebates are used has become a growing source of debate in recent years as the cost of some
treatments has soared.

The Pharmacy Benefit Management Institute said insurers and employers most
often use the money to reduce overall plan costs.

The so-called point-of-sale rebates that UnitedHealthcare planned to provide
could lower customer expenses like deductibles or co-insurance payments.

Those costs in general have climbed steadily in recent years as employers look to pass more of the coverage expense along to people who use the prescriptions.

Separately, President Donald Trump also has proposed giving rebates directly to
Medicare prescription drug customers.