Drug Discount Cards (DDC) can provide valuable point-of-sale price relief for consumers who are either uninsured or underinsured for prescription medications. DDCs offer access to PBM-negotiated prescription drug discounts, outside of the pharmacy benefit. While they are often frowned upon by health plans for a variety of reasons, they play an increasingly significant role and are becoming a larger piece of the healthcare marketplace. Today, I want to discuss a specific situation where plans can actually create an advantage for their clients and for themselves by offering a DDC option.Small employers who offer a medical benefit but not a pharmacy benefit may be receptive to a DDC option.
If a small business is not ready to afford a pharmacy plan, why not offer them a health plan-branded DDC as part of the benefits package? It is, after all, in the best interests of both the plan and the small business to support lower-cost prescriptions and better access to medications in any way they can.
Employees without a pharmacy benefit are more likely to experience prohibitively high out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs. High out-of-pocket costs are a major driver of medication nonadherence1, and nonadherence contributes to poorer outcomes2– health, wellbeing, and productivity can suffer. When your client’s employee-members can’t afford their medications, your plan-branded DDC can be of assistance. A branded DDC offering gives health plans the opportunity to meet a real need for some up-and-coming small businesses.
Beyond reducing out-of-pocket costs for your client’s employees and promoting medication adherence, health plans should consider the DDC strategy because it can nurture future opportunities. When health plans establish supportive growth-oriented relationships with growing businesses, both parties are better positioned for future successes: Someday that DDC card option may evolve into a full-fledged pharmacy plan.
While working with an employer to provide a full pharmacy benefit is always best, in certain situations a DDC is a good step in the right direction.
Overcoming Barriers to Medication Adherence for Chronic Diseases, CDC Public Health Grand Rounds, February 21, 2017,https://www.cdc.gov/grand-rounds/pp/2017/20170221-presentation-medication-adherence-H.pdf