THURSDAY, Jan. 20, 2022 (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 Jan. 13 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Kao-Ping Chua, M.D., Ph.D., 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 (Dec. 1, 2020, through March 31, 2021).

The researchers identified 5,591 ivermectin prescriptions, of which 84.1 percent 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 Aug. 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.

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