Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield has renewed its contract with Catalyst Rx to provide pharmacy benefit management (PBM) services to its members in Iowa and South Dakota.
Catalyst Rx, the Rockville, Md.-based subsidiary of Catalyst Health Solutions, Inc. (NASDAQ: CHSI), began administering pharmacy benefits for Wellmark on July 1, 2006. Wellmark’s renewal, effective January 1, 2011, followed a competitive bidding process.
"Catalyst’s transparent pricing model and ability to deliver customized programs have allowed us to deliver a high-quality pharmacy benefit to members while effectively reducing our pharmacy costs," says Wellmark Pharmacy Director Matt Hosford, RPH. "Leveraging our combined expertise, and our commitment to quality and service excellence, we will provide greater value for our customers."
Wellmark spent $770 million on drugs in 2009 – nearly 15 cents of every premium dollar. Managing pharmacy expenses appropriately is one way Wellmark is working to reduce the annual rate of increase in health care costs to equal the consumer price index.
The benefits of PBM services for individual policyholders
Pharmacy benefit managers provide a variety of services used by Wellmark's individual policyholders, including mail order pharmacy services, and clinical programs to reduce medication errors and inappropriate prescriptions. The biggest benefit for members, however, is a PBM's ability to negotiate better prices with drug makers to manage overall pharmacy costs, which in turn helps keep health insurance affordable.
The benefits of PBM services for employers
Employers receive the same benefits listed above, but these benefits are magnified across larger groups of members. Employer groups can also take advantage of formularies (preferred drug lists) and pharmacy plan designs to better manage employees' overall health care expenses without compromising the quality of care.
"Wellmark's selection of Catalyst Rx reflects continued success in our efforts to provide clients with heightened performance accountability, transparency and innovative solutions to managing prescription benefits," says David Blair, Chief Executive Officer of Catalyst Health Solutions. "We appreciate the opportunity to continue building on our collaborative partnership to drive the most care- and cost-effective solutions."