HMOs, employers happier with their PBMs

HMOs and, to a lesser extent, employers that contract with pharmacy benefit management companies were happier last year than they were the year before with the PBMs' performance, the Pharmacy Benefit Management Institute found in a poll. PBMI received responses from 330 large employers (more than 2,500 employees each) covering more than 10.5 million people, and 69 HMOs with a collective enrollment of more than 15 million.

Overall, and for most individual functions too, ratings were higher than 1997, but there's still a lot of room for improvement. About 40 percent of employer and 46 percent of HMO respondents gave their PBMs a rating of 7 or less on a scale of 1 to 10.

These and other findings are in PBMI's 1998 Pharmacy Benefit Manager Customer Satisfaction Survey Report.

While it's important to look at satisfaction with overall service, both employers and HMOs indicated that the industry does some things well, other things not so well. There's a pretty wide gap between the highest-rated and lowest-rated functions. PBMs "appear better able to perform operational and administrative functions than they are able to perform utilization management functions," says PBMI.

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