Insurers could save $4B by switching where patients take specialty drugs, UnitedHealth says

Shifting specialty drug administration away from hospital settings could reduce expenses by $4 billion annually, according to a new report from UnitedHealth Group.

United Health found that administering specialty drugs in independent physician offices and patient homes, instead of hospital outpatient settings, could save insurers between $16,000 to $37,000 per privately insured patient annually.

"Compared to independent physician offices, hospitals charge more for specialty drugs and their administration, whether treatment occurs in a hospital or in a hospital-owned physician practice," the report states. 

Changing the location where multiple sclerosis drugs are administered could provide the greatest reduction in costs, according to the report.

UnitedHealth found that hospitals charge an average of $20,965 to administer a multiple sclerosis drug, compared to physician offices which charges $11,619 and at-home care providers which charge $10,849. 

The study was based on utilization and cost data of United Health's members receiving  hospital-administered specialty drugs.

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