Next year, UnitedHealthcare will offer employer health plans that have no copays or out-of-pocket costs for five vital drugs — insulin, epinephrine, glucagon, naloxone, and albuterol — but those discounts will only be a guaranteed for less than a quarter of UnitedHealthcare’s membership for now.
The news of the plans comes right as UnitedHealthcare’s parent company, UnitedHealth Group, reported revenue and profits in the second quarter that blew away Wall Street’s expectations. UnitedHealth’s $5 billion net profit was its second-largest quarterly profit ever, only beat by the second quarter of 2020, when the pandemic led to widespread delayed care.
Starting in 2023, fully insured employers — companies that offload all of the risk of covering workers’ medical and drug expenses to insurers — can choose UnitedHealthcare’s new plans that make those five drugs free for patients. UnitedHealthcare covers 8 million people in fully insured plans, about 20% of its total U.S. membership. Medicare Advantage and Medicaid plans are not included in the new free drug offering.