[Special Edition]: Insurers’ “White Bagging” Drug Policy Threatens Patient Safety

Increases in consolidation and alignment between commercial health plans and pharmacy benefit managers have resulted in a series of business practices designed to steer patients to insurer-affiliated pharmacies and away from patients’ longstanding providers to the detriment of patient care. Under new policies being implemented by a number of large commercial insurance companies, they steer patients to third-party specialty pharmacies – often owned by the same parent company as the insurer – to acquire medication necessary for clinician-administered treatments, such as chemo infusions. Commonly referred to as “white bagging,” this practice raises significant patient safety issues, results in frequent delays in care and shifts tremendous administrative burden to hospitals to reconcile these policies on behalf of their patients. To examine this concerning trend, we hear from Mark Howell, AHA’s director of policy and patient safety, and Michelle Millerick AHA’s senior associate director of health insurance coverage policy.