Capital Blue Cross to bring low-cost pharmacy option to members and non-members in 2023

Come 2023, members of Capital Blue Cross and even those that are not will be able to bypass their traditional pharmacy benefits manager and buy prescription drugs from Mark Cuban Cost Plus Drug Company. The Dallas, Texas-based company launched in 2022 as a disruptor to the traditional pharmacy industry, and last week both companies announced that Capital Blue Cross is the first health plan to formally collaborate with the pharmacy startup. The Harrisburg, Pennsylvania-based insurer serves 21 counties in Central Pennsylvania.

Mark Cuban Cost Plus Drug Company offers almost 1,000 products online that are delivered by mail. The company cuts out middlemen to offer lower-priced drugs, which can cost up to 80% less than common generic drugs, according to a news release. It charges consumers 15% more than it purchased the drug for from the manufacturing company, and patients also pay a $3 dispensing and shipping fee.

Through the new collaboration, Capital Blue Cross members will be able to use their insurance cards on Cost Plus Drugs’ website. They will pay the same price listed on the website and can do their own price comparison of generic drugs to determine which prescription option makes the most sense for them, said Gary Petruzzelli, director of pharmacy trade and pricing at Capital Blue Cross, in an email.

By using their insurance cards, members’ purchase costs will go toward their deductible and lower their out-of-pocket costs, said Samir Mistry, vice president of pharmacy strategy and services at Capital Blue Cross, in an email.

The insurer already works with pharmacy benefits manager Prime Therapeutics, but will be offering Cost Plus Drugs as an additional option.

“Cost Plus Drugs is not replacing Capital’s existing pharmacy benefits manager. Cost Plus Drugs will be another pharmacy option for our members to choose when filling their prescriptions,” Mistry said. 

However, the collaboration will work to help non-members as well, Mistry added. Capital Blue Cross will advertise Cost Plus Drugs in its service area to help make communities aware of the company as an option for prescriptions.

“Part of our corporate mission is to go the extra mile not just for our members, but also for the communities we serve,” he said. “To that end, we will be promoting the availability of Cost Plus drugs to members and non-members in our service area, giving all of them one more option for finding affordable medications. Capital offers, and will continue to offer, guidance and tools to help members and non-members alike make the best choices to suit their health and wellness needs.”

Capital Blue Cross chose to work with Cost Plus Drugs so it can help expand access to affordable drugs, Petruzzeli said. The insurer is neither paying Cost Plus Drugs nor receiving revenue through the collaboration.

“We are simply working to make our members and non-members alike aware of another option at their disposal to obtain affordable medications,” he said. “Our goal is to increase access and affordability whenever and wherever possible, and our relationship with Cost Plus Drugs allows this to happen in a new way.”

Dr. Alex Oshmyansky, co-founder and CEO of Cost Plus Drugs, said the company has a shared mission with Capital Blue Cross.

“Our mission at Cost Plus Drugs is to ensure all consumers have access to the medications they need to be healthy – a goal Capital Blue Cross shares,” Oshmyansky said in the news release. “Working with a like-minded organization like Capital gives us more momentum to help people get the medications they need at costs they can afford.”

Mark Cuban expressed his excitement on the news on Twitter

“Thank you to @capbluecross for helping to change the pharmaceutical game! Together we will save money for your customers!” he wrote.

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