With Wal-Mart and others charging low, low prices for generics –below that of typical co-pays, some health plans are realizing that the right out-of-pocket price for generics might be $0. Independence Blue Cross in Pennsylvania has extended its “no-pay co-pay” initiative for the rest of the year and is beginning to incorporate the concept into benefit designs. There’s nothing like free to get people to speak to their physicians about generics and counter advertising of brand name drugs. With so much competition in the generics market health plans don’t need to pay much for generics anyway, if they buy wisely.
It’s not a brand new idea, but maybe in the coming months and years we’ll see greater use of negative co-pays: paying patients to take generic drugs for chronic conditions where there’s a return on investment for the health plan in terms of lower costs for hospitalization.March 22, 2007