Sharing Rebates on Diabetes Medicines Could Save People with Diabetes $3.7 Billion a Year

A new study finds that passing along rebates and discounts directly to patients at the pharmacy counter could save individuals with diabetes $3.7 billion annually and reduce overall health care spending through improved medication adherence and a reduction in diabetes-related complications.  The study was conducted by IHS Markit and commissioned by the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease (PFCD).
Understanding how out-of-pocket costs diabetes medicines affects medication adherence, health outcomes, and, ultimately, costs is especially important given the increasing prevalence of diabetes.  More than 30 million Americans – have type 2 diabetes, with another approximately eight million not yet diagnosed and 86 million more with signs of prediabetes. Diabetes is frequently associated with one or more chronic conditions, and often linked to costly complications. Uncontrolled diabetes raises risks for heart disease, stroke, amputations, blindness, and kidney disease – creating both health and economic ramifications for the individual with diabetes, his or her family.
The study released by PFCD estimates the impact of applying negotiated manufacturer rebates and discounts to the prices paid by commercially insured individuals who take brand diabetes medicines.  The model then calculated how medication adherence improves with reduced out-of-pocket drug expense and the subsequent impact on net overall medical spending.
The study found that sharing rebates on diabetes medicines could save people with type 2 diabetes $3.7 billion per year, or $791 per person if the full rebate is shared. Despite passing along the entire rebate to the people taking the medicines, health plans also would save $305 million a year from reductions in medical spending resulting from enhanced medication adherence related health outcomes improvements.  Improved adherence could also mean one million fewer hospital visits annually. State by state data across the U.S. are forthcoming.  
While medications are important tools in chronic disease management, there are significant opportunities for prevention to reduce the toll of type 2 diabetes.  Preventing diabetes through improving access to programs focused on the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program, promoting physical activity and access to healthy foods, and educating at risk populations will help to lower their risks and the overall diabetes burden. Taking as many active steps towards healthy outcomes is the best path forward for helping people living with diabetes, for those at risk for developing the disease, and for our entire society as we work to address and reverse the effects of this rampant chronic condition throughout the U.S.