Chapel Hill, N.C. – Following the success of its generic copayment holiday in 2004, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC) has launched a new effort to encourage members to consider generic drugs for the treatment of common conditions.
From October through December of 2004, BCBSNC waived copayments for all generic drugs for members who have their prescription coverage through the company. Under that initiative, the company’s generic dispensing rate increased from 47 percent to 53 percent. The number of generic prescriptions increased 390,000, compared to the previous three–month period.
"Members are clearly finding that choosing generic drugs is a sensible way to control their monthly health care costs without sacrificing quality," said Ron Smith, BCBSNC director of Corporate Pharmacy. "In 2005, we are continuing to offer incentives for members to consider generics as a cost–effective option, when appropriate."
As part of its new initiative, BCBSNC is waiving a member’s first copayment for any new prescription for selected generic maintenance drugs in a variety of classes. These include generic maintenance drugs for the treatment of high blood pressure, diabetes, depression and high cholesterol. [Full list is at the end of this release.] The initiative began on January 1 for BCBSNC–insured members who have prescription drug coverage through the company. Self–insured companies whose drug benefits are administered by BCBSNC will also have the option of offering this waiver to members, beginning April 1. Every new prescription that a member receives for a generic medication included in this program is eligible for the one–time waiver. Members’ deductibles and benefit limits still apply.
"These generic maintenance drugs are for the treatment of chronic conditions, and they are typically taken daily," Smith said. "As such, members stand to save significantly by switching from a brand–name to a generic maintenance drug."
Generic drugs are the same as the corresponding brand–name drugs in active ingredients, dosage, strength, safety and performance. Generics typically cost 30 to 70 percent less than the comparable brand–name drug. For BCBSNC members, the average monthly out–of–pocket savings for switching to an appropriate generic is $10 to $30, which is an annual savings of $120 to $360. This does not include the additional savings they will receive because of the copayment waiver. The lower costs for generic drugs are typically associated with the lower marketing and development costs for those drugs.
BCBSNC members retain the option of choosing a brand–name drug, even if an appropriate generic alternative is available. Members cannot be prescribed a generic drug unless a physician specifically indicates that it is an appropriate alternative to a brand–name drug.
Members of the State Health Plan and Federal Employee Program are not eligible for the copayment waiver for new generic maintenance drug prescriptions because BCBSNC does not administer the drug benefits for those plans.
BCBSNC features a series of online tools to help members with their drug choices. The average retail price of all drugs covered by BCBSNC is available in the member drug guide. The company’s Web site allows members to search for generic alternatives for brand–name drugs. BCBSNC recently launched PharmaAdvisorTM, an online tool that members can use to select a particular medical condition and find out the various types of drug treatments that may be available. A member can research the relative costs of those options and estimate their out–of–pocket costs. BCBSNC is making PharmaAdvisor available through a relationship with Subimo, LLC, a leader in providing innovative health–related decision support tools for consumers.
Generic Maintenance Drugs Included in New BCBSNC Initiative:
DIURETICS (Drugs to Treat High Blood Pressure)
hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ)
indapamide (generic Lozol)
spironolactone (generic Aldactone)
spironolactone/HCTZ (generic Aldactazide)
triamterene/HCTZ (generic Dyazide, Maxzide)
BETA BLOCKERS (Drugs to Treat High Blood Pressure)
atenolol (generic Tenormin)
labetalol (generic Trandate, Normodyne)
metoprolol (generic Lopressor)
nadolol (generic Corgard)
propranolol (generic Inderal)
ACE INHIBITORS (Drugs to Treat High Blood Pressure)
benazepril (generic Lotensin)
captopril (generic Capoten)
enalapril (generic Vasotec)
fosinopril (generic Monopril)
lisinopril (generic Zestril, Prinivil)
ANTIHYPERTENSIVE COMBINATIONS (Drugs to Treat High Blood Pressure)
atenolol/chlorthalidone (generic Tenoretic)
benazepril/HCTZ (generic Lotensin HCT)
bisoprolol/HCTZ (generic Ziac)
captopril/HCTZ (generic Capozide)
enalapril/HCTZ (generic Vaseretic)
lisinopril/HCTZ (generic Zestoretic, Prinzide)
metoprolol/HCTZ (generic Lopressor HCT)
propranolol/HCTZ (generic Inderide)
quinapril/HCTZ (generic Accuretic)
ORAL AGENTS FOR DIABETES (Drugs to Treat Non–Insulin Dependent Diabetes)
glipizide (generic Glucotrol)
glipizide ER (generic Glucotrol XL)
glyburide (generic Micronase, Diabeta)
glyburide micronized (generic Glynase)
glyburide/metformin (generic Glucovance)
metformin (generic Glucophage)
metformin ER (generic Glucophage XR)
ANTIDEPRESSANTS (Drugs to Treat Depression)
bupropion (generic Wellbutrin)
bupropion ER (generic Wellbutrin SR)
citalopram (generic Celexa)
fluoxetine (generic Prozac)
mirtazapine (generic Remeron, Remeron SolTab)
nortriptyline (generic Pamelor)
paroxetine (generic Paxil)
trazodone (generic Desyrel)
LIPID–LOWERING AGENTS (Drugs to Treat High Cholesterol)
cholestyramine (generic Questran)
gemfibrozil (generic Lopid)
lovastatin (generic Mevacor)
About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina:
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina is a leader in delivering innovative health care products, services and information to more than 3 million members, including approximately 540,000 served on behalf of other Blue Plans. The company offers its members the Blue ExtrasSM value–added programs, which provide discounts and information on a wide variety of health–related services at no additional cost. BCBSNC also offers life, dental, long–term care and disability insurance products. For 71 years, the company has served its customers by offering health insurance at a competitive price and has served the people of North Carolina through support of community organizations, programs and events that promote good health.
BCBSNC’s HMO product has earned Excellent Accreditation from the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA), an independent, not–for–profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of health care. BCBSNC also has North Carolina’s first and only NCQA accredited PPO plan – Blue OptionsSM. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Access BCBSNC online at