The Impact of Sharing Drug Rebates at the Point of Sale on Out-of-Pocket Payments for Enrollees in Employer-Sponsored Insurance



This study aimed to estimate the impact of sharing drug rebates at the point of sale on out-of-pocket spending by linking estimated rebates to administrative claims data for employer-sponsored insurance enrollees in 2018.


We applied the drug rebate rate to the retail price of each brand name drug fill, allocated the reductions to out-of-pocket spending based on cost-sharing provisions, and aggregated each individual’s out-of-pocket spending across drug fills. We assumed that generic drugs have no rebates for employer-sponsored insurance. We assessed the impact of sharing rebates at the point of sale on out-of-pocket spending overall, for the therapeutic classes and specific drugs with the highest average out-of-pocket spending per user, and by health plan type.


Across 4 simulations with different assumptions about the degree of cross-fill effects, we found that 10.4% to 12.2% of enrollees in our sample would have realized savings on out-of-pocket spending if rebates were shared to the point of sale. Among those with savings, approximately half would save $50 or less, and 10% would save > $500 annually. We calculated that a premium increase of $1.06 to $1.41 per member per month among the continuously enrolled, insured population would be sufficient to finance the out-of-pocket savings in our sample.


Our study suggests that, for a small percentage of enrollees, sharing drug rebates at the point of sale would likely improve the affordability of high-priced brand name drugs, especially drugs that face significant competition.


Yao Ding G. Edward Miller

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