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Independence Blue Cross Waives Copays for Generics Used to Treat Certain Chronic Conditions

Rx for Better Health offers members access to 75 generic drugs at no cost

for six months

PHILADELPHIA, June 19 /PRNewswire/ -- Independence Blue Cross (IBC) will waive copays and coinsurance on 75 generic drugs that are used to treat common chronic conditions. Rx for Better Health is a member incentive program designed to help our members become more actively involved in their health care. The program will help educate members on the benefits of following prescribed treatment plans for their illnesses, and on the benefits of generic prescription drugs.

Rx for Better Health begins July 1, 2008, and ends December 31, 2008, and waives copays on 75 generic drugs that are commonly used to treat chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, depression, acid reflux, heart failure and heart disease. The program is administered by IBC's pharmacy benefit manager, FutureScripts(R), and a complete list of drugs included in this program is available at

Approximately 78 percent of all health care costs in Pennsylvania can be traced to the 20 percent of patients living with chronic disease(1). However, only 56 percent of these Pennsylvanians receive the care they need(2). As a result, hospitals report billions of dollars in charges for hospitalizations that may have been avoided if patients with chronic health conditions had received necessary preventive care. And, Pennsylvanians suffer unnecessarily in many cases that could have been avoided through appropriate use of prescription drugs.

"Our goal is to help members with chronic conditions maintain the best possible health so they can enjoy a comfortable lifestyle and steer clear of visits to the emergency room, and unnecessary hospitalizations," said Joseph A. Frick, president and CEO of IBC. "We want to empower our members to become informed consumers of health care by offering tools and incentives like this program. We're seeing a growing trend that as members get more involved in their health care, they are motivated to maintain their wellness."

"Chronic conditions, left unattended, can lead to poor health and significant costs for everyone -- our members, employers, and the community," said I. Steven Udvarhelyi, M.D., Chief Medical Officer for IBC. "Consistent use of prescribed drug therapy plays a significant role in managing chronic conditions. By waiving the copays on many medications used for chronic conditions, we hope to encourage members to take prescribed medications and take a more active role toward maintaining better health," Dr. Udvarhelyi added.

The greater adherence members have in taking their drug therapy, the greater chance complications from chronic conditions can be avoided, resulting in improved quality and cost savings that can have a positive effect on the bottom line of employers. Increased use of generic drugs lowers prescription drug expenses for everyone, so there is a further reduction in the rate of increased medical costs.

"Rx for Better Health builds on the success and popularity of No Pay Copay, the generic education program that waived copays for IBC members on all generic prescriptions throughout 2007," Frick said. "We have been pleased to see that our members' generic utilization increased from approximately 47 percent at the beginning of that program, to 62 percent currently."

John Janthor, an IBC member from Bucks County, has discovered the benefit of staying healthy by using generics. "My doctor switched me from a brand name drug to simvastatin last year during IBC's No Pay Copay program, and I've been pleased to find that my cholesterol level was controlled with equal effectiveness by the generic," Janthor explained. Janthor and his wife Maureen were happy to learn that through Rx for Better Health, they would be able to get simvastatin at no cost through the end of the year. "With two kids to put through college, every little bit of savings helps," Janthor added.

"We understand consumers' growing concern about the rising costs of maintaining their health," said Paul Urick, R.Ph, senior vice president for FutureScripts(R), the pharmacy benefit manager administering Rx for Better Health. "By helping members see the cost-saving benefits of generics, we are educating them on how to save on their own out-of-pocket costs over the long run, while, even more importantly, staying healthy," he added.

"We encourage individuals who currently take brand name medications to continue as prescribed by their doctor, but in some cases, more cost-effective generic options are available," said Dr. Udvarhelyi. "We suggest that a dialogue between patients and their doctors is the best way to determine if a generic is a suitable fit for a particular condition."

The 75 generic prescription drugs for which IBC will waive copays were chosen because they are used to treat illnesses that significantly affect IBC's population and which proven clinical studies have indicated there is a tremendous opportunity for improved health among patients. The studies used to develop Rx for Better Health show that when prescribed, consistent use of these 75 drugs improves overall health and reduces the risk of more serious, and in some cases life-threatening, complications.

Generics meet the same health and safety standards set by the Food and Drug Administration, but have much lower development and marketing costs than their brand name equivalents, making them more cost-effective options. Even if a member's brand name drug is not currently available in generic form, there may be a generic drug that can effectively treat their condition with different active ingredients. These are known as generic therapeutic alternatives and members need to talk to their doctors about getting a new prescription to make this switch.

IBC offers other services specifically for members with chronic conditions, such as Health Coaches, website tools, and online health assessments. These services can help members make the most of their discussions with their doctors, and maximize the benefits of their health care plans.

No enrollment is necessary to participate in Rx for Better Health. Program applies to in-store pickup at participating FutureScripts(R) pharmacies or mail-order fulfillment. Members with Medicare Part D drug plans, Personal Choice(R) HSA-Qualified plans with integrated drug coverage, and Federal Employee Health Benefits Program members are not eligible for the program. Other exclusions may apply.

(1) Presentation of Michael Bailit on the Chronic Care Model, March 22, 2006.

(2) Dr. Elizabeth A. McGlynn and Dr. Steven M. Asch, et al., The Quality of Health Care Delivered to Adults in the United States, The New England Journal of Medicine, Vol. 348.

Independence Blue Cross

Independence Blue Cross is a leading health insurer in Southeastern Pennsylvania. IBC and its affiliates provide coverage to nearly 3.4 million people. For 70 years, Independence Blue Cross has offered high-quality health care coverage tailored to meet the changing needs of members, employers, and health care professionals. Independence Blue Cross is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans. For more information visit us at

SOURCE Independence Blue Cross
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