The copay accumulator bans passed in 15 states affect about 15 million people, or 11% of U.S. commercial plan members, according to research by consulting firm Avalere Health. Experts say the drug manufacturer-backed bans pick winners between payers and patients, but don’t come close to solving the persistent problem of sky-high prices for life-saving drugs.
Copay accumulators are the practice, implemented by PBMs, of preventing the value of copay assistance programs from counting toward a plan member’s deductible and out-of-pocket maximum calculation. A related practice, copay maximizers, spreads out the value of a copay coupon over 12 months while also preventing that coupon from counting toward a patient’s deductible/out-of-pocket maximum. Fifteen states and Puerto Rico have banned these practices in fully funded plans, which states can regulate — self-insured plans, since they are regulated by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, are not included.