“By 2024, the cost of gene therapies is expected to reach more than $16 billion in the U.S.,” according to EvaluatePharma. With single treatments tipping the $1 million dollar scale, it’s no surprise that insurers and employers alike are looking to implement strategies that help them mitigate these costly treatments.
Gene therapy is a technique that modifies a person’s genes to treat or cure an inherited disease. While treatment can be life altering for patients, the high cost that comes along with it can burden employers with astronomical price tags.
A quick look at 3 common gene therapies and the average cost per treatment:
|Gene Therapy Drug||Treatment||Average Cost Per Treatment|
|Zoglensma1||Treats spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) in young children||$2.1M|
|Luxturna2||Treats inherited disorder that causes blindness||$850,000|
|LentiGlobin3||Aims to treat beta-thalassemia major and severe sickle cell disease||$1.2M|
Employers are looking for guidance on setting conditions for who is eligible to receive these types of treatments as well as payment options that will help them cover the costs of these therapies.
1) Managed Benefit Design – It’s important that companies design their coverage options to control costs now and in the future for the types of gene therapies they’re looking to cover.
A couple questions that should be considered:
2) Additional Insurance Coverage for Specific Treatments – More and more organizations are offering programs that will manage and pay for particular gene therapies for a fixed per member fee. Organizations need to determine if that is sufficient coverage and what the cost may be for those specific treatments.
3) Prior Authorization Management – Before a patient begins a therapy, companies should consider asking the following questions:
Employers and insurers are faced with a challenge to find a balance between providing access to patients who need gene therapy and determining who is eligible to receive treatments. With payment protection plans being limited and unclear approaches to whether or not insurers will be able to lower the costs of gene therapies or spread them out over time, it’s important for employers to work with their health plan administrator to determine a strategy that equips them with the tools needed to help mitigate the potential high costs of gene therapy treatments.