HealthDay News — Insurers could prevent substantial waste by restricting prescription coverage for inappropriate use of ivermectin for COVID-19, according to a research letter published online January 13 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Kao-Ping Chua, MD, PhD, from University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor, and colleagues used national claims data to identify 5 million patients with private insurance and 1.2 million with Medicare Advantage (December 1, 2020, through March 31, 2021).

The researchers identified 5591 ivermectin prescriptions, of which 84.1% were for privately insured patients (mean age, 51.8 years). Mean out-of-pocket spending was $22.48 for privately insured patients and $13.78 for Medicare Advantage patients, with mean insurer reimbursement of $35.75 and $39.13, respectively. Aggregate total spending was $273,681 for privately insured patients and $47,142.81 for Medicare Advantage patients. However, in the week of August 13, 2021, private insurance paid an estimated $1.6 million and Medicare plans paid $924,720 for ivermectin prescriptions for COVID-19 (extrapolated to $129,673,240.30 annually).

“Findings suggest that insurers heavily subsidized the costs of ivermectin prescriptions for COVID-19, even though economic theory holds that insurers should not cover ineffective care,” the authors write.

Abstract/Full Text