Humana Joins Cigna’s GPO For Commercial Members

Humana Inc. entered an agreement with Cigna Corp. to join a group purchasing organization (GPO) for prescription drugs called Ascent Health Services, a Switzerland-based subsidiary of Cigna’s Express Scripts PBM. Humana representatives said the move would give the insurer more clout in negotiations with pharmaceutical manufacturers, but critics of the accelerating GPO trend (RDB 8/13/20, p. 1) say that the agreements are a way for carriers and PBMs to capture rebate revenue that should flow to plan sponsors by increasing pricing opacity and complexity.

“This arrangement will help us leverage scale and buying power to extract deeper price discounts from drug manufacturers and advance affordability for our customers while at the same time preserve our ability to address their specific clinical needs,” a Humana spokesperson told AIS Health via email. The agreement only applies to Humana’s commercial group plan members, which comprise a small percentage of the Medicare-focused insurer’s total covered lives.

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Peter Johnson

Peter Johnson

Peter has worked as a journalist since 2011 and has covered health care since 2020. At AIS Health, Peter covers trends in finance, business and policy that affect the health insurance and pharma sectors. For Health Plan Weekly, he covers all aspects of the U.S. health insurance sector, including employer-sponsored insurance, Medicaid managed care, Medicare Advantage and the Affordable Care Act individual marketplaces. In Radar on Drug Benefits, Peter covers the operations of (and conflicts between) pharmacy benefit managers and pharmaceutical manufacturers, with a particular focus on pricing dynamics and market access. Before joining AIS Health, Peter covered transportation, public safety and local government for various outlets in Seattle, his hometown and current place of residence. He graduated with a B.A. from Colby College.

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