Physicians get paid incentives from HMO for changing patients to generic drugs..BD

A recent Blue Care Network program paid 2,400 Michigan doctors $2 million for switching patients to generic cholesterol-lowering drugs from brand-name drugs like Lipitor and Crestor. The insurer said it saved nearly $5 million. And the HMO expects members who switched will save a total of $1 million from lower co-payments this year.

Blue Care Network's incentive program, which ran from Jan. 1 through March 31, was part of an effort to improve the quality of patient care and hold down drug costs, said Helen Stojic, a spokeswoman for the HMO.

Doctors got $100 for each patient that filled a generic prescription during the 90-day program, an amount intended to reimburse the physicians for the time it took to review patient files and discuss generic alternatives, Stojic said. Blue Care Network focused on cholesterol-lowering statins for the program because that's the category of drugs insurers spend the most on, Stojic said.

Once wooed by pharmaceutical giants with lavish gifts as a push to increase sales of their new drugs, doctors now are getting cash incentives from health insurance companies when they switch patients to cheaper generic medications.  Most of his patients never knew about the incentive from the insurer, but Bickle said that didn't change the benefit to them of the switch. "In all honesty, (cholesterol lowering drugs) all work. They all reduce heart risk and stroke risk," he said.

Insurers embracing generic Rx


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