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CVS Caremark Research Identifies Optimal Elements Of Effective Value-Based Insurance Design (VBID) Plans

WOONSOCKET, R.I.,, Feb. 13, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- New research conducted by CVS Caremark (NYSE: CVS) and Brigham and Women's Hospital published online today in Health Affairs, identifies five key features of popular Value-Based Insurance Design (VBID) plans that are associated with the greatest impact on medication adherence.  The study, which will also appear in the journal's March issue, was funded by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Changes in Health Care Financing and Organization (HCFO) Initiative.

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A variety of pharmacy benefit structures - including copayments, co-insurance and deductibles - help payors contain health care spending by encouraging patients to actively consider and bear the cost of prescription medications.  VBID plans take a different approach by reducing the cost to the patient for medications that offer higher clinical benefit with the intent that increased medication use would improve health outcomes and reduce overall health care spending. For example, patients in a VBID plan who have a chronic disease such as high blood pressure may have their out-of-pocket costs (e.g., copay) significantly reduced or eliminated for essential medications to treat their condition.

"For the first time, this research offers high-quality, empirical data on the VBID plan features that appear most effective for stimulating greater medication adherence," said Niteesh Choudhry, MD, PhD, associate physician, Division of Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics, Brigham and Women's Hospital and associate professor, Harvard Medical School and the lead author of the study. "The results show that several specific features can improve adherence from between two to five percentage points and this information can help influence how future copayment reduction plans are structured for optimal benefit."

The researchers evaluated 76 VBID plans provided by CVS Caremark to 33 unique plan sponsors and involving more than 274,000 patients. Based on the analysis, five key features were found to have a greater impact on adherence. These included:

  • More generous VBID plans (e.g., those plans that had no cost-sharing for generic drugs and low monthly copayments of < or = $10 or co-insurance rates of < or = $15 for brand-name medications),
  • Plans that targeted high-risk patients,
  • Plans that had concurrent wellness programs,
  • Plans that did not have concurrent disease management programs, and
  • Plans that made the benefit available only by mail order, offering 90 day prescriptions.

"VBID plans have been popular with employers and health plans as a way to use financial incentives and other methods to encourage medication adherence, improve health outcomes and reduce overall health care costs," said William H. Shrank, MD, MSHS, senior vice president and Chief Scientific Officer of CVS Caremark, and a study co-author. "In order to optimize the benefits of VBID plans, these findings encourage more generous coverage for generics, greater use of 90-day prescriptions, more careful intervention targeting and expansion of wellness programs, all of which are active initiatives at CVS Caremark."

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