Today I am going to look at trends in formularies and utilization management. Key highlights (discussed in detail below):
- Four-tier plans keep growing.
- More employers are excluding entire therapy classes from the formulary. (Manufacturers, take note!)
- Utilization management tools are being applied in many therapy categories.
The PBMI survey data are collected from employers (not PBMs). The 2011-12 edition includes responses from 274 employers representing 5.2 million beneficiaries—a decline from the 372 employers in last year’s report. Most of the decline came from smaller employers. Thirty-three percent of the respondents in the 2011-12 survey were from employers with 10,000 or more beneficiaries vs. 26% in the 2010-11 survey. Survey methodology wonks can see the Profile of Respondents for more details.
The sample population of the PBMI survey is similar to the Kaiser/HRET survey that I discuss in A Look at Drug Benefit Tiers in 2011, although the PBMI provides much more detail on pharmacy benefit design decisions..
This year’s survey was analyzed by Brenda Motheral, Ph.D., the new Executive Director of PBMI. I respect Dr. Motheral’s work and appreciate the care that she took in presenting the data. She dropped certain questions, scaled back the historical trend information given the changing sample base, and even threw in some statistical tests. (Oh, how I do enjoy a good p-value!) Dr. Motheral will put her own stamp on next year’s survey, so I have high expectations for the 2012-13 edition.
Consistent with previous PBMI surveys, the employer—the PBM’s client—makes the ultimate decision about the prescription drug benefit offered to employees. In this year’s survey, employers report that the responsibility for pharmacy benefit design fell to the in-house human resources staff, the insurance carrier, or an outside consultant at three out of four companies. PBMs were responsible for benefit design at only 14 (5%) of the 274 companies surveyed. See Figure 8.
As always, I encourage you to read the full report for yourself rather than just relying on my interpretation.
The three-tier formulary—generic drugs, preferred brand-name drugs, and non-preferred brand-name drugs—remains the most common (59% of plans). A four-tier formulary was popular enough to be used by 25% of employers, an even greater share than the Kaiser/HRET data. Here are the data:
Large employers are more likely to have a formulary. One hundred percent of employers with more than 20,000 lives had a preferred drug list, compared to 90% of smaller employers (p<.05).
FORMULARY EXCLUSIONS AND UTILIZATION MANAGEMENT
Cost management and cost-shifting to employees are a key theme in the PBMI report. Pharmaceutical manufacturers should note the growing exclusions for certain therapeutic categories from formularies. The chart below highlights the fact that a majority of employers are excluding coverage in many categories. (See Table 28 for the trend data.) If you notice my profile picture, you'll understand why the first treatment exclusion saddens me.
The report highlights some interesting differences in cost-management among employers.
- Thirty percent of self-insured employers excluded Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs), compared to 52% of fully insured.
- Carve-in employers were more likely to exclude PPIs, as were small employers (p<.05).
- Fully insured, carve-in and smaller employers were more likely to exclude nonsedating antihistamines (p<.05) and most other drug classes.
- Prior authorization
- Quantity limits
- Refill-too-soon limits
Stay tuned for a look at the always-controversial drug reimbursement data!