Health insurance upstart Oscar Health is offering about 100 medications to many of its members with co-pays of $3 each. The prescriptions run the gamut from antibiotics to blood pressure medications to insulin to antidepressants.
"We came up with a list of about a hundred drugs that represent 90% of the use cases that somebody might need a prescription for," Vinod Mitta, VP of Pharmaceuticals at Oscar Health, said in a blog post on the company's website.
Lowering those co-payments means that Oscar will be picking up a greater share of the costs for those prescriptions, but the company may be able to make up the difference if the change results in a reduction in costly complications for those members later. "When people can afford to take their prescribed dosage, they're more likely to get and stay healthier," the blog post explained.
Many of the drugs on the list are generics, which don't cost the insurer too much, but some branded drugs also made the list. Oscar included insulin on the $3 drug list, but excluded most of the modern insulin treatments, such as Novo Nordisk's (NYSE:NVO) Tresiba, Sanofi's (NASDAQ:SNY) Toujeo, and Eli Lilly's (NYSE:LLY) Humalog.
To keep from looking like the bad guys, the drug companies have cut prices for some of their insulin offerings. Novo Nordisk, for example, is offering up to three vials or two packs of FlexPen, FlexTouch, and Penfil pens for $99 and has launched authorized generics of some of its other insulin medications. Sanofi did even better, offering up to 10 boxes of pens or vials per month for $99. And Eli Lilly sells a version of its Humalog insulin at 50% of the branded cost, and plans to expand its half-off selection with additional offerings.