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GOVERNMENT: A Push for More PBM Cost Transparency

By Stephen Barlas
March 5, 2015

Department of Labor (DOL) officials are waiting for the final report from the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) Advisory Committee before opening a rulemaking that would give companies more information about the costs that pharmacy benefit managers (PBM) charge companies for the outpatient drug component of corporate health plans—many of which are subject to ERISA.


PBMs providing services to ERISA health plans are covered by disclosure requirements imposed by the DOL, which have been criticized for being too weak. The ERISA Advisory Committee recommended last September that the DOL force PBMs to provide health plans with some of the same information that “covered service providers” to pension plans have to provide. The DOL has been waiting for the final report to arrive before deciding whether to subject PBMs to those disclosure requirements. Employers want more PBM transparency so they can determine whether PBMs are passing along the discounts specified in contracts and saving the company as much money as can be saved.




Stephen Barlas has covered Washington, D.C., for trade and professional magazines since 1981 and since 1984 for Strategic Finance and its predecessor Management Accounting. You can reach him at sbarlas@verizon.net.
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