CVS Announces Option With No Out-of-Pocket Costs for Diabetes Drugs

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As the often stunningly high out-of-pocket costs of insulin and other diabetes drugs have received widespread media coverage in recent months, many different stakeholders — from insulin manufacturers to state legislatures to health insurers — have taken action to reduce costs for certain groups of people. Now, CVS Health has announced a program that may eliminate out-of-pocket costs for diabetes drugs for many people with private and employer-sponsored health insurance plans.

In a press release, the company announced that its pharmacy benefits manager division — CVS Caremark — will create an option called RxZERO for employers and private health insurers under which diabetes drugs, including insulin, carry no out-of-pocket costs for plan members. Employers and insurers can choose this option at no extra cost to themselves or plan members, according to CVS — meaning that premiums and deductibles will not change.


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According to the press release, CVS determined that this new option won’t increase other costs for employers and insurers because people are more likely to adhere to their diabetes treatment plan when they aren’t paying for drugs out-of-pocket. This leads to savings in other areas of health care, such as fewer diabetes-related hospital admissions or a lower risk of developing costly diabetic complications.

Currently, CVS says, its plan members who take branded diabetes drugs spend an average of $467 each year on associated co-pays and other out-of-pocket costs, and nearly 12% of these people spend over $1,000.

“Eliminating out-of-pocket costs for diabetes medications ensures long-term affordability, improves adherence, and most importantly, puts patients on the path to better health,” says CVS Health chief medical officer Troyen A. Brennen, MD, in the press release. “RxZERO provides affordable options for the entire range of diabetes medications.”

Want to learn more about saving money on insulin? Read “Novo Nordisk to Offer Free and Low-Cost Insulin,” “Sanofi Offering Insulin at $99 Per Month” and “Eli Lilly Announces New Lower-Cost Insulin Options.”

(Image: Cassiohabib /

Quinn Phillips

Quinn Phillips

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A freelance health writer and editor based in Wisconsin, Phillips has a degree from Harvard University. He is a former Editorial Assistant for Diabetes Self-Management and has years of experience covering diabetes and related health conditions. Phillips writes on a variety of topics, but is especially interested in the intersection of health and public policy.

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