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HHS Addresses Drug Manufacturer Coupons on Out-of-Pocket Limits

Client Alert

On May 7, 2020, the US Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) announced their Notice of Benefit Parameters for 2021 in which HHS addressed the application of prescription drug manufacturer copay coupons towards a patient’s out-of-pocket limit. Under this guidance, HHS will permit, but not require, plans and insurers to count direct support offered to enrollees by drug manufacturers (i.e., coupons) for specific prescription drugs toward the annual limits on cost-sharing, regardless of whether a generic equivalent is available.

In the Notice of Benefit Parameters for 2020, HHS finalized a proposal that for plan years beginning on or after January 1, 2020, amounts paid toward cost sharing using any form of direct support offered by drug manufacturers to enrollees to reduce or eliminate immediate out-of-pocket costs for specific prescription brand drugs that have an available and medically appropriate generic equivalent are not required to be counted toward the annual limitation on cost sharing.[1] HHS received stakeholder feedback indicating confusion on whether plans and issuers are required to count the value of all forms of direct support provided by drug manufacturers, including drug manufacturers' coupons, toward the annual limitation on cost sharing, other than in circumstances in which there is a medically appropriate generic equivalent available, particularly with regard to large group market and self-insured group health plans.

In an effort to alleviate this confusion, HHS is revising the rule to state, “…amounts of direct support offered by drug manufacturers to enrollees for specific prescription drugs towards reducing the cost sharing incurred by an enrollee using any form are not required to be counted toward the annual limitation on cost sharing.”[2] Health insurance issuers and group health plans now have the flexibility to determine whether drug manufacturer direct support to enrollees for specific prescription drugs counts toward the annual limitation on cost sharing.

HHS considered a proposal to interpret the definition of “cost sharing” to exclude expenditures covered by drug manufacturer coupons, but after review of proposal rule feedback and comments, is refusing to adopt this interpretation in this 2021 final rule.

Finally, HHS expects issuers and group health plans to be transparent with enrollees regarding potential out-of-pocket liability and whether the value of direct drug manufacturer support accrues to the annual limitation on cost sharing. HHS is encouraging issuers and group health plans to prominently include this information on websites and in brochures, plan summary documents, and other collateral material that consumers may use to select, plan, and understand their benefits, but this is not a requirement.

Please contact a BMD healthcare attorney if you have any questions regarding this final rule, the application of drug manufacturer coupons on cost sharing, or other general healthcare questions. 


LGBTQIA+ Patients and Discrimination in Healthcare

In early April, the Kaiser Family Foundation released a study outlining the challenges that LGBT adults face in the United States related to healthcare. According to the study, LGBT patients are “twice as likely as non-LGBT adults to report negative experiences while receiving health care in the last three years, including being treated unfairly or with disrespect (33% v. 15%) or having at least one of several other negative experiences with a provider (61% v. 31%), including a provider assuming something about them without asking, suggesting they were personally to blame for a health problem, ignoring a direct request or question, or refusing to prescribe needed pain medication.”

Ohio Recovery Housing Overhaul: New Standards and Certification Requirements Reshape Sober Living Spaces

Ensuring Fair Access: SB 269 Protects Affordable Medication for Low-Income Patients

SB 269, introduced on December 19, 2023, will ensure that 340B covered entities, including Federally Qualified Health Centers, Ryan White Clinics, disproportionate share hospitals, and Title X clinics, can acquire 340B drugs without facing undue restrictions or discriminatory practices from drug manufacturers and distributors. This protection is crucial for 340B covered entities to continue to provide affordable medications and comprehensive services to low-income patients.

Unveiling Ohio's Pharmacy Board Updates for Distributors, Mobile Clinics, and Controlled Substances

The Ohio Board of Pharmacy will hold a public hearing on May 28, 2024, to discuss several proposed changes and additions to Ohio Administrative Code (OAC). These changes pertain to terminal distributors of dangerous drugs (TDDDs), mobile clinics or medication units, and the classification of controlled substances.

House Bill 249: Key Updates to Involuntary Hospitalization Law for Mental Health Providers

House Bill 249 (HB 249) proposes changes to Ohio Revised Code (ORC) Sections 5122.01 and 5122.10 to expand the conditions under which a person with a mental illness can be involuntarily hospitalized.