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UnitedHealthcare broadens consumers direct rebate program

MINNETONKA, Minn. (AP) — The nation's largest health insurer is expanding a program that passes rebates from drugmakers directly to the people that use their medications.

Beginning next year, all employer-sponsored health care plans that use UnitedHealthcare must give point-of-sale discounts directly to consumers.

Insurers typically get rebates from pharmaceutical companies to help offset high list prices for well-known drugs. Those are often passed on companies that sponsor employee insurance plans to lower everyone's premiums.

Yet how these rebates are used has become contentious as the cost of medical care soars.

UnitedHealthcare said Tuesday that its initial direct-rebate program, begun last year, has lowered drug costs by an average of $130 per prescription.

UnitedHealthcare is the insurance arm of UnitedHealth Group Inc.

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