Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, the state’s largest health insurer, said today it’s dumping its pharmacy services vendor that manages drug purchases for nearly half of its 3.7 million customers.
Blue Cross said it’s in negotiations to end its contract with Medco Health Solutions, a New Jersey pharmacy benefits manager. The switch would likely reduce drug costs for Blue Cross customers, said spokesman Lew Borman. He declined to offer details since contract negotiations are still ongoing.
Blue Cross’s 600,000-plus customers in the state government health plan would not see a change, however. Neither would 113,000 Medicare members who buy supplemental coverage from Blue Cross. Their pharmacy benefits are handled by Medco in separate contracts that would not be affected by Blue Cross switching to another provider.
Blue Cross is planning to switch to Prime Therapeutics, a privately held drug services provider owned by a dozen nonprofit Blue Cross and Blue Shield state health plans.
Blue Cross, which has used Medco since 1996, is the latest in a series of lost contracts for Medco, which in recent months has lost major contracts from UnitedHealthcare Group and the California Public Employees Retirement System.
Blue Cross is one of Medco’s biggest customers and would represent a significant loss to the drug processor.
Weakened by setbacks and losing market share, Medco last month agreed to be acquired by a competitor, Express Scripts.