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Save money on asthma medications
Switching to Asmanex or Qvar can save members $400 per year
May 27, 2011

Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield is offering to waive the member cost share in a copay waiver program to encourage members  to switch to a more cost efficient asthma medication.


Asmanex and Qvar two brand-name medications will be available for most Wellmark members* at the same cost-share as a generic medication beginning June 1, 2011. Since there are no generic asthma medications available in this drug category, Wellmark has taken the step to designate two name-brand drugs as their preferred products. Asmanex and Qvar are the preferred forms of inhaled corticosteroids, the most popular drug treatment for people with moderate to severe asthma.


Members can save $400 a year in out-of-pocket costs for asthma medication

To encourage the use of these preferred medications (Asmanex and Qvar), Wellmark will waive the member cost-share (copay/coinsurance) for the first month of prescription filled between June 1, 2011 and September 30, 2011 at a retail pharmacy.** That makes the first 30 days of treatment free for most members.


Here’s how most members can benefit from the changes:


Name of drug Current average annual out-of-pocket costs Average annual out-of-pocket costs, beginning June 1, 2011 Member savings

Advair, Symbicort, Flovent, Aerobid, Dulera




Asmanex, Qvar





Wellmark members spent $27 million on asthma medications in 2010

Asthma medications are one of Wellmark top five most expensive drug classes, accounting for $27 million in spend last year. These medications also account for one in four dollars spent on asthma care overall.


Inhaled corticosteroids are the primary treatment for people with moderate to severe asthma. Asmanex and Qvar are just as effective as the more expensive (and heavily advertised) counterparts, but with a cost savings of more than 40 percent.


“Switching to Asmanex or Qvar is an easy way to save money at the pharmacy,” says Matt Hosford, Wellmark’s pharmacy director. “Lower drug costs may also help patients better comply with their doctor’s treatment plan. This helps keep their asthma under control, prevents acute attacks, and keeps patients out of the hospital or emergency room.”


The first step – talk to your doctor about Asmanex and Qvar

Hosford suggests members talk to their doctors to see if Asmanex or Qvar are appropriate for their condition. “Doctors want to help their patients save money, so be sure to mention that you’re interested in trying one of these preferred medications.”


For more information on health and health insurance, call the Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield Personal Health Assistant 24/7 at 1-800-724-9122, or visit


*Does not apply to Blue Basics. **Does not apply to mail service pharmacy. If a drug plan has a deductible, the deductible must be met before the cost share is waived, unless the plan waives deductible for generics or for preventive drugs on an HSA Preventive Drug List. Does not apply to members currently taking Asmanex or Qvar, or who have taken one of these in the last 12 months. Does not apply to members of self-funded plans who have opted out of the copay waiver program or the following Blue Basics, Med Supp/Plan J, FEP, CMM plans.



Contact Wellmark Media Relations

Traci McBee
Phone: 515-376-4338


Teresa Roof
Phone: 515-376-5869


1331 Grand Avenue
Des Moines, IA 50309-2901

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