December 5, 2022

Capital Blue Cross is the first health insurer to partner with Mark Cuban’s Cost Plus Drug Co., which sells prescription medicines at fixed-rate markups, the companies announced Thursday.

Capital Blue Cross will begin covering members’ purchases at Cost Plus Drugs next year.

“Capital’s collaboration with Cost Plus Drugs will help us bring lower-cost medications to members and non-members alike across our service area, providing some much-needed relief to those struggling to pay for their vital—and sometimes lifesaving—medications,” Capital Blue Cross president and CEO Todd Shamash said in a news release. The Blue Cross and Blue Shield carrier operates in central Pennsylvania.

The not-for-profit health insurer’s partnership is an “anomaly,” said Antonio Ciaccia, president of 3 Axis Advisors, who has previously done data analytics work for Cuban’s company. “Most health plans are using traditional pharmacy benefit managers who are responsible for creating this culture of high prices in the first place because of the incentives,” he said.

Billionaire Cuban’s for-profit drug company sells medicines for 15% more than it pays manufacturers. Cost Plus Drugs launched an online pharmacy in January that offers 1,000 prescription drugs, including cholesterol medication atorvastatin, also known as Lipitor, which costs about $4 per month through the company.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans are typically more aligned with the interests of plan sponsors than are for-profit insurance companies, Ciaccia said. More health insurance companies and pharmacy benefit managers will team up with Cost Plus Drugs over time, he predicted.

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