BACKGROUND: A major employer implemented a change to its employee health benefits program to allow beneficiaries with diabetes or high cholesterol to obtain preselected generic antidiabetic or generic antihyperlipidemic medications with a zero dollar copayment. To receive this benefit, plan beneficiaries were required to participate in a contracted vendor’s case management and/or wellness program.
OBJECTIVE: To assess changes in medication adherence and the costs for generic antidiabetic and generic antihyperlipidemic medications resulting from participation in a zero copay (ZCP) program.
METHODS: This was a retrospective pre-post comparison group study, evaluating adherence and cost. Participants using an antihyperlipidemic and/or antidiabetic medication during the study identification period and post-implementation period for the program were considered eligible for the study. Eligible beneficiaries who enrolled in the ZCP program during the post-implementation period were considered participants, while those who did not enroll during this period were considered nonparticipants. ZCP program participants and nonparticipants were matched via a 1-to-1 propensity scoring method using age, gender, comorbidity count, medication type (antihyperlipidemic, antidiabetic, or both), and baseline adherence as matching criteria. The proportion of days covered (PDC) metric expressed as a mean percentage was used to assess adherence to medication therapy, while payer cost was examined using prescription drug utilization expressed as per member per year (PMPY) and cost change per 30 days of medication expressed in dollars.
RESULTS: Among participants who were users of antidiabetic medications, the mean adherence rate was sustained from pre- to post-implementation (81.8% vs. 81.9%); however, it decreased in the matched nonparticipant group (81.9% vs. 73.1%). This difference in mean adherence over time between the participants and nonparticipants was statistically significant (0.1% vs. -8.8%, P < 0.001). Similar results were found among users of antihyperlipidemics. The mean adherence rate was sustained over time for participants (77.7% vs. 78.3%) but declined over time for nonparticipants (77.6% vs. 70.8%). The difference in mean change over time was statistically significant between participants and nonparticipants (0.6% vs. -6,8%, P < 0.001). Average prescription costs PMPY increased for participants of the ZCP program during the post-implementation period; however, the increase was not larger than the cost increase among nonparticipants ($581 vs. $584, P = 0.95). Furthermore, among antihyperlipidemics the cost increase post-implementation was actually significantly less for participants than nonparticipants ($51 vs. $143, P < 0.001).
CONCLUSIONS: Plan sponsors are increasingly evaluating the use of value-based benefit design (VBBD) to change member behavior. This ZCP program used a reduction in cost sharing to incentivize members to use more generic drugs and to enroll in a care management coaching program. The study also demonstrated that a VBBD program can have a positive impact on adherence and cost outcomes among those who participate compared with nonparticipants.