Cigna Reps Discuss COVID-19 Vaccines and Specialty Pharmacy with Actuarial Club
On Tuesday, March 16th, Cigna joined the Actuarial Club for a presentation on COVID-19 vaccines and specialty drugs. The actuarial presenters that we were honored to host were Ben Andreas, Jenny Soler, and Lakch Saraf.
Beginning the presentation with COVID-19 vaccines, the Cigna representatives began with an overview of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna mRNA vaccines, including their efficacy rates, transportation/storage requirements, and their transmission rates. They then covered the administration and vaccine cost distribution:
The cost of the COVID-19 vaccine is currently upheld by the U.S. Government
The cost of vaccine administration and pharmacy costs (including staff wages, supplies, equipment, storage, overhead, etc.) are covered by Medicare, Medicaid, insurers, and some are covered by the U.S. Government
However, most of these costs are offset by the cost benefit of reduced COVID-19 hospitalizations over time. They also discussed the possibility of the vaccine becoming an annual shot similar to the influenza vaccine. They concluded the COVID-19 vaccine discussion on the newly approved Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which had limited relevant information due to the newness of the study information at the time of the presentation.
The Cigna presenters then steered the conversation toward specialty pharmacy, and some of the changes and relevant topics for actuaries in the field. Specialty drugs include high cost drugs, complex/rare conditions, high touch, specialty storage or transportation, and extra consultation pharmaceuticals. We learned that Medicare defines specialty drugs as drugs costing more than $670 per month, and while they account for 75% of all medicine spending growth in 2011-2016, drugs were an estimated 50% of all pharmacy spending in 2020; the highest of these costs coming from rare conditions. Before concluding the presentation, the representatives touched on future trends in specialty drugs, including gene therapy; cost trends in pipeline drugs, modeled utilization shifts, and drug cost changes; and programs and incentives such as utilization management, formularies, and financial incentives.
We would like to extend our gratitude towards Cigna, Ben, Jenny, and Lakch for their time spent with our Actuarial Club members. We enjoyed learning more about such prevalent topics such as COVID-19 vaccines and specialty pharmacy, and we hope to hear from them again in the near future!