Rising care costs In a subscription model, payers agree to a fixed cost to access a particular drug over a set period of time. (Photo: Shutterstock)

Medicaid programs in Louisiana and Washington have pioneered the use of prescription drug subscriptions for new hepatitis C pharmaceuticals, with a goal of expanding patient access and containing costs.

But a new report by the RAND Corporation cautions that drug subscription models are relatively new and untested, and they may not ultimately reduce costs for public and private payers. Payers could end up spending more under drug subscriptions than they do with the traditional cost-per-unit models, the paper argues. Moreover, private payers and Medicare drug plans cannot implement drug subscriptions without regulatory changes, it notes. But the wider push toward value-based health care means that drug subscriptions may be an area of growth.

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