Health insurer Humana is all set to join Cigna-run purchasing body Ascent Health Services from April 1 in a bid to avail of big discounts from drug companies. Though Cigna is its rival, the collaboration assumes significance for Humana since Ascent manages commercial rebates, which drug companies make to health plans. The insurer feels the new partnership will be beneficial as its commercial members will have access to cheaper drugs.
- As part of the collaboration, Ascent will carry out drug contracting and negotiations for Humana’s commercial business.
- Humana spokeswoman Kelley M Murphy was quoted as saying by a news agency, “This arrangement will help us leverage scale and buying power to extract deeper price discounts from drug manufacturers and advance affordability for our customers while at the same time preserve our ability to address their specific clinical needs.”
- According to Cigna, the move is an example of its “ability to expand the reach of our best-in-class solutions across the health care system — even with entities traditionally considered competitors — to improve the affordability of healthcare for more Americans.”
- For Humana, the latest venture is just for commercial members despite the fact that commercial medical plans account for a limited number in its overall membership. Till September 2020, the company had 8.4 million members in its Medicare business as against just 1.3 million in commercial medical plans. Private Medicare Advantage plans for seniors has been its focus area.
- As rivals, both Humana and Cigna are engaged in selling health insurance and related medical services. Since 2018, Cigna has been in expansion mode in the pharmacy sector. The company first acquired Express Scripts that year and then collaborated with Prime Therapeutics LLC in 2019 for three years.