June 27, 2016

Bloomberg Businessweek — OptumRx was doing a routine analysis of a client’s prescription-drug claims when it noticed something odd. The company’s spending on acne medicine seemed high compared with those of other customers. Digging into the usage data for clues, the pharmacy arm of the health insurer, UnitedHealth Group, found that employees had been prescribed newer brand-name acne drugs that were, for the most part, combinations of older generic medicines. OptumRx began requiring patients to begin treatment with the cheaper remedies and switch to the pricier ones only if the others proved ineffective. Within six months, the 60,000-employee company had saved more than $70,000, OptumRx says.