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United Healthcare Will Pass Drug Rebates To Consumers

by Countable | Updated on 3.8.18

What’s the story?

The price that most consumers pay for prescription drugs, the list price, is not the price that their insurer pays. Insurers negotiate rebates from drug manufacturers to lower their costs, yet largely don’t pass those savings onto consumers. Until now.

United Healthcare is the first major insurer to announce that they will pass savings from those rebates directly onto their enrollees. According to the Washington Post, "UnitedHealthcare announced yesterday it will pass on rebates on prescription drugs directly to the 7 million people enrolled in its fully insured employer plans."

The move echoes a call in the administration’s most recent budget to make the passing of rebates directly to consumers mandatory for all insurers.

The 7 million people who will be effected is a small percentage of the total number that United Healthcare, the largest private insurer in the country, insures overall. Still, the move is being heralded both by drug manufacturers and consumer advocates as a significant step in the right direction.

University of Chicago health economist Rena Conti stated, "I think patients — particularly those struggling with very high deductibles and costs associated with prescription drugs or high co-insurance rates associated with very high price drugs — stand to benefit significantly from this announcement."

What do you think?

Is this good news for you as a United Healthcare enrollee? Should this practice spread to other insurers? Do efforts like this improve the healthcare landscape significantly enough to make the current system workable, or are other changes needed? What changes to our healthcare system do you want to see?

Tell us in the comments what you think, then use the Take Action button to tell your reps!

— Asha Sanaker

(Photo Credit: Images Money via Flickr / Creative Commons)

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Written by Countable

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(21)
  • Jeffrey
    03/08/2018
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    It is past time to force pharmaceutical companies, Health Care Providers and Insurance companies to publish prices for all to see. When the insurance price for my son's medication is $83 for a months supply, compared to $24 cash out of pocket, you know there is some serious price shananagins going on!

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  • MJDalio
    03/08/2018
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    Health Insurance is not healthcare. It actually is anti-healthcare because they make their profit on those that are not sick. Health Insurance companies are not medical professionals yet they get to tell your doctor what he can and cannot do on your behalf and then they tell you which doctors you can see and when. Government involvement with health insurance has only one purpose and that is to keep the rates down for all the government employees at the expense of everyone else.

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  • OldTimer
    03/08/2018
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    The pharmaceuticals and health insurance companies have shown absolutely no self restraint in their greed and willingness to rip-off the American people. They seriously need to be reigned in. I think United Health Care is worried that Trump might be the one to put the hammer on them and so decided to back off just a little bit in hopes that doing so will appeasing him if he does decide to take them on.

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  • Jill
    03/08/2018
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    This sounds good...until I know details about how and when I’ll remain skeptical. How will the rebates be given? Will a chunk of money go back to the employer to divvy? Will they lower co-pays? Will the insured be given a rebate check each time he or she fills a prescription or obtains a refill? There are so many ways this could play out. Anything involving money, big pharma and insurance is often not exactly what us mere mortals will ever understand and usually comes back to bite the insured! I’ll believe when I see it.

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  • Azrael
    03/09/2018
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    What are they raising to make up for their loss ? Sorry do not trust the insurance companies Follow the money

    Like (5)
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  • James
    03/08/2018
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    That is an industry that is too strong and no matter if you are Conservative or liberal, our politicians on both sides have taken a lot of money from them and have turned a blind eye! They are the strongest in Washington when it comes to passing cash and the American people are getting absolutely screwed!

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  • Stacy
    03/08/2018
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    So they are passing on saving to those who are employer covered, which makes you enslaved to the job. Another way to keep people in a job they hate, or that pays very little because they can't afford healthcare. This should be passed on to all those enrolled in United Healthcare plans. It's a gimmick, the government meddling in your healthcare, nor people who make money off your being sick or declining your treatment should ever be trusted.

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  • Sarah
    03/08/2018
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    I hear the pass on but to keep profits up something will be adjusted. How will this actually work?

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  • Suzi
    03/09/2018
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    The insurers will make up for the loss of the rebates by charging their enrollees more or dropping coverage of something else unless the law specifically prevents that. I’m a skeptic. Yeti the skeptic.🤨

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  • Katie
    03/09/2018
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    My medication costs over $400 uninsured. After Obama care was recinded, I was told I'm uninsurable due to the cost of my medication. The rates should just fall to every American in the country.

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  • Gemma
    03/08/2018
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    THANK YOU United Healthcare! No thanks to the Republican Party who is doing everything they can to make life more difficult for seniors and middle class America. #FireTheGOP

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  • SouthernGal
    03/09/2018
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    Why isn’t this passthrough automatically passed to the insured? This is a big reason to never sign onto a healthcare plan that is for profit. Only buy not for profit plans. They tend to pass corporate savings along to their subscribers.

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  • Linda
    03/09/2018
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    Healthcare should not be a high profit industry. Good healthcare should be available to everyone, not just the monied.

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  • Sean
    03/10/2018
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    I’ll believe it when I see it

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  • Brennan
    03/11/2018
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    How about one better: eliminate the profit motive in healthcare. Under one insurer, taxes would then pay for visitations, medicines, procedures, hospitals, doctors, nurses, and medical equipment. Guess where our taxes/monies would stop going to: price gouging middlemen and bloated pharmaceutical advertising! #MedicareForAll #HR676 #S1804

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  • Bluewitsend
    03/13/2018
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    Another reason for universal healthcare. It would make more sense. The American people are at a the mercy of corporate profits with the system we have now. Corporations do not care if you live or die as long as they can make enormous profits. I support taking the greed out of healthcare including drugs.

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  • Lynette
    03/08/2018
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    So, I'm confused...I don't get drugs from United Healthcare...just scripts? What am I missing? Only for those used for procedures?

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  • Alexis
    03/16/2018
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    Are prescription pills even safe and effective?

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  • Jeanne
    03/09/2018
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    Just a drop in the bucket, but every little bit helps.

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  • Leon
    03/09/2018
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    How about allowing health insurers the ability to sell to anyone anywhere? Requiring good faith estimates like you are entitled to for car repairs?

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