Medco Merges with Express Scripts; United Healthcare Affected

Posted on Jul 23, 2011 in Industry & Legislative News

Yesterday, the Pharmacy Benefit Manager Medco announced an agreement to merge with Express Scripts. At the same time, Medco indicated that it will not renew its contract to provide pharmacy benefits administration services to UnitedHealthcare customers. The UHC/Medco contract ends December 31, 2012 and includes a transition period thereafter.

United Healthcare is prepared to transition services currently handled by Medco to UnitedHealth Group’s in-house PBM, Prescription Solutions by OptumRx, when the Medco contract ends. This change will not occur for more than a year, and until that time it will be business as usual for UnitedHealthcare customers and their employees, who should continue to use their pharmacy benefits as they have been.

United Healthcare says it is confident about all that this change will offer UnitedHealthcare customers. OptumRx has made significant investments in its infrastructure and technology to expand its capacity and strengthen its operations for continued growth. United Healthcare will bring to bear the full resources of UnitedHealth Group to ensure a smooth and successful transition.

We at SB&K Benefits, L.L.C. will be watching this transition closely.

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Congress Introduces Bill to Undo Health Law Provision for Medical Savings Accounts

Posted on Jul 20, 2011 in Health Care Reform

Last January, due to the new PPACA rules, people who wanted to use their Health Savings Accounts (HSA) or Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) to purchase over the counter medication had to get a prescription from their physician. Without a prescription, the over the counter medications did not qualify as a medical expense for HSA or FSA. Well, things may be changing – for the better.

Last week, Congress introduced bipartisan legislation to remove restrictions on tax-exempt health spending accounts – a revenue-raising provision of the Affordable Care Act that was estimated to garner $5 billion over 10 years. The bill would end a provision that since January has required a prescription for buying over-the-counter medicines with medical savings accounts, such as Flexible Spending Accounts and Health Savings Accounts.

The language was originally added as a way to keep the Affordable Care Act’s costs down by reducing unnecessary drug purchases. However, the provision appears to have had the opposite effect of increasing costs, as many people are scheduling doctor visits for the sole purpose of obtaining prescriptions for over-the-counter medications. The proposed legislation would restore the ability of people participating in a medical savings account to use funds from those accounts to purchase over-the-counter medications without a prescription.

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