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Inside Iowa State, a newspaper for faculty and staff, is published by the Office of University Relations.

January 28, 2005

New prescription plan begins on Feb. 1

by Linda Charles

The ISU Plan's new prescription program (with Medco Health Solutions) goes into effect Feb. 1. The plan covers faculty, staff and supervisory merit employees.

The new prescription program is expected to save the university about $1 million annually, said Tim Ashley, employee benefits manager. It was this anticipated savings that allowed the university to keep insurance premiums down this year.

The university's new prescription plan offers two options for obtaining prescriptions: retail purchase through local pharmacies or the Medco home delivery plan through the U.S. mail. Ashley stressed that those covered under the pharmacy program are free to choose either option.

Employee costs for long-term prescriptions will be less expensive through the Medco home delivery program than at local pharmacies. That's partly because the three-for-two plan (three months worth of maintenance prescriptions for the cost of two co-payments) will be available through the home delivery option only, Ashley said.

Using the home delivery program will take some advance planning since it takes about seven to eight days for prescriptions to be delivered. Once you've set up your account with Medco, you can have your prescriptions refilled by using Medco's online Web site or by phone or mail.

Those who opt for the retail pharmacy option will need to present their Medco member ID card when they have their prescriptions filled. To get three-month prescriptions from retail pharmacies, employees first must make a one-time request for an exception from the benefits office. Once that exception is granted, employees may have their prescriptions filled on a three-month basis at retail pharmacies, although they will not qualify for the three-for-two co-pay.

Ashley noted the expectation is that most participants with short-term prescriptions will fill them at local pharmacies since those prescriptions usually are needed right away.

The $1,500 maximum out-of-pocket expense continues under the new plan. Once that amount is reached, claims are paid in full. (Co-pays made in January count toward this year's maximum.)

Additional information about the pharmacy plan is available on the benefits Web site (

Co-pay amounts
(90 day supply)
(30 day supply)
Preferred drug20%30%
Non-preferred drug33%50%
Three-month sample cost comparison
Sample drug cost for 90 days$300$300
Preferred drug co-pay$60$90
Non-preferred drug co-pay$99$150
Generic drug co-pay$20$30


The ISU Plan's new prescription program goes into effect Feb. 1. The new plan offers coverage through local pharmacies or home delivery through the mail. Co-payment varies, depending on how prescriptions are filled.