With the emergence of a new national health insurance Marketplace, insurance shopping has a new level of accessibility that has resulted in a broad-spectrum shift of health insurance operations, new insurers, formularies, and an array of benefits designed to meet the actuarial expectations stipulated by the law. As of April 19, 2014, over 8 million people signed up for a Marketplace plan, exceeding the projected 6 to 7 million, with an additional 6 to 7 million enrolled in Medicaid. The majority being previously uninsured. The Marketplace is poised to grow to over 24 million members by 2016 with the potential of expansion beyond that by tens of millions.
Formularies and Benefits in the Marketplace
There are approximately 250 formularies that have been created by over 275 insurers. While these formularies had to meet state specific essential health benefit standards, there is a similarity between the 2014 formularies and their commercial counterparts.
In addition, the Marketplace appears to take a more transparent approach to a number of circumstances where the drug benefit would not apply, including:
- Out of network drug purchases do not count toward deductible or out of pocket maximum, or may have a substantially higher set of deductibles that apply.
- Drugs prescribed by an out of network physician – not covered.
- Brand drugs purchased when a generic is available – not covered.
- Drugs that require prior authorization but are obtained without going through this process – not covered.
- Non-formulary drugs – not covered.
Current Marketplace enrollees, tending to be lower income, overwhelmingly selected the lowest cost premium plans available. We would expect the same type of pharmaceutical purchasing behavior. An initial 2-month snapshot review of approx. 650,000 claims for 25 insurers from January to February 2014 by Express Scripts showed:
- Higher antidepressant (8% higher), pain medication (29% higher), seizure medication (19%) use vs commercial
- Specialty Meds: 1.1% of Rx vs 0.75% in commercial
- HIV: 55% of specialty claims vs 21% in commercial
- Cancer and HIV higher in Exchanges based on claim cost
Going forward, we would expect to see that initial skewing of drug utilization patterns begin to normalize.
The Marketplace: What to expect in 2015 and in the Years Ahead
Over the next 1 to 3 years, we expect to see greater market segmentation by key insurers. With some gaining hundreds of thousands of new Marketplace enrollees, this could stimulate new selective and targeted contracting interest and arrangements with Pharma. Insurers will drive toward value and lower costs in this transparent and competitive market, and will request this through contractual concessions and migration to shared risk/outcome type contracts from Pharma. Pharma will need to evaluate the traditional contracting value in light of the emerging reality in this market.
There may be a greater emphasis on certain classes of drug vs others. Products with a lower perceived value to the insurer (i.e., ones that don’t demonstrate cost reductions or quality of care improvements) may struggle to gain preferred status. Bundling such products in rebate agreements with other drugs that do have stronger perceived value is one way in which this risk could be mitigated.
The New Cost-Reactive Stakeholders
The member, with cooperation from their prescriber, becomes the key product decision maker relative to their ability to afford the copay (or coinsurance) at any tier level or the full cost through the deductible. Simply gaining a preferred brand position on a formulary may not return the contract value, as even preferred brand positioning often is associated with a significantly higher copay or coinsurance compared to generics (or compared to traditional commercial coverage of preferred brands (See table 1 above). Physicians will be interested in complying with their patient’s affordability expectation.
The Marketplace Formulary and Benefits
The formulary rules in place for 2014 will continue through the 2015 season (i.e., same benchmark plan, formulary Essential Health Benefits). There will likely be a change for 2016, but insurers are awaiting formal guidance from CMS which is expected to be issued by the end of 2014.
In our next post, we explore the effect on pharmaceutical companies and their business models.