Revenues and profits from medicare patients in hospitals participating in the 340b drug discount program, 2013-2016

Rena M. Conti, Sayeh S. Nikpay, Melinda B. Buntin

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18 Scopus citations


Importance: The federal 340B program lowers the acquisition cost of prescription drugs and places no limits on what hospitals charge payers. Congress established the program to allow 340B profits (the difference between payments and acquisition costs) to subsidize other safety-net services. Little is known about the magnitude of revenues and profits from the 340B program among participating hospitals. Objective: To report revenues and estimated profits from the 340B program that hospitals collect from Medicare and Medicare beneficiaries for outpatient clinic administration of prescription drugs covered under Medicare Part B. Design, Setting, and Participants: This cross-sectional descriptive study used 100% Medicare outpatient Part B claims from January 1, 2013, to December 31, 2016, from fee-for-service Medicare beneficiaries administered separately payable drugs at general acute care nonprofit or public hospitals without special payment designations. Claims data (N = 11298860) were aggregated to the hospital-year level (N = 6000) and linked to hospital finances and 340B participation from Medicare cost reports and the 340B covered entity list. Main Outcomes and Measures: Outcomes studied were revenue and estimated profits, assuming a 50% discount from 340B-discounted drug administrations to Medicare patients, as well as Medicare 340B profits relative to hospital net operating revenue, uncompensated care, and disproportionate share hospital payments. Results: During the study period, hospitals received approximately 2.1 billion in 340B revenue from Medicare in 2013, increasing to 3.7 billion in 2016. Estimated 340B profits from Medicare in 2016 totaled 1.9 billion, and per-hospital estimated 340B profits were 2.5 million but exhibited variability (median, 0.8 million; interquartile range, 0.1 million-2.8 million). In 2016, median estimated 340B profits from Medicare were 0.3% (interquartile range, 0.1%-0.7%; mean, 0.4%) of hospital operating budgets and 9.4% (interquartile range, 1.8%-26.5%; mean, 16.6%) of hospital uncompensated care costs. Conclusions and Relevance: Estimated profits that hospitals derived from administering 340B-discounted drugs to Medicare patients are small compared with operating budgets yet substantial compared with uncompensated care costs for many hospitals. Revenue and profit estimates from 340B-discounted drugs represent a lower bound because data on revenue from the sale of outpatient retail dispensed drugs by hospital contract pharmacies and commercial insurer claims are not available.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere1914141
JournalJAMA Network Open
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 30 2019
Externally publishedYes

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