Action by Internal Revenue Service is a Win for Patients and Consumer Health
Woonsocket, R.I. (July 17, 2019) – The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced today it will add certain medical care services for a range of chronic conditions to the list of preventive care benefits that may be covered by a high deductible health plan prior to satisfaction of the deductible. CVS Health (NYSE: CVS) urged the Trump administration to take this step and has long advocated for an expansion of preventive care benefits to include drug coverage for chronic conditions, which will improve health outcomes and reduce sticker shock when consumers fill prescriptions.
“Expanding coverage of preventive products and services for managing chronic conditions will help improve adherence to medication, reduce costs for consumers and improve health outcomes,” said Thomas Moriarty, Executive Vice President, Chief Policy and External Affairs Officer, and General Counsel at CVS Health. “With millions of Americans covered through high deductible health plans, too often they have seen higher out-of-pocket costs on their prescriptions until they have met their deductible. This has created a major financial burden for patients, especially those living with chronic conditions like diabetes, asthma and heart disease. With today’s announcement, the [Trump] administration has taken a very important step.”
Before today’s announcement, employers could cover only preventive drugs and services through their high deductible health plan with a health savings account prior to satisfaction of the deductible. Through letters to the Trump administration, congressional testimony and white papers on the topic, CVS Health has urged for action on this issue for several years.
As a self-insured employer, CVS Health offers a high deductible health plan with an HSA to its own employees. CVS Health covers many preventive drugs with no deductible or copay, and its medication adherence metrics for preventive drug regimens for conditions such as hypertension, hyperlipidemia, heart failure, diabetes, asthma, and depression have improved. Company research shows that health care costs for patients with these conditions are reduced when they take their medications as prescribed. For patients with congestive heart failure, CVS Health found that they spend nearly $8,000 less per year by adhering to their medication.