Are Non Formulary Drugs Covered by Insurance

Non-formulary drugs are medications that are not included on a health insurance plan’s preferred drug list. This means that these drugs are typically more expensive than formulary drugs and may not be covered by insurance. Coverage for non-formulary drugs varies significantly depending on the specific plan design and the individual’s insurance carrier. Some plans may cover these drugs with prior authorization or other restrictions, while others may not cover them at all. It is important to check with your insurance provider to determine the specific coverage for non-formulary drugs that may apply to your plan.

Formulary vs. Non-Formulary Medications

**What is a Formulary?**
A formulary is a list of medications that an insurance plan covers. These medications have been carefully selected by a team of medical experts to provide the best possible care for plan members.

**What are Non-Formulary Medications?**
Non-formulary medications are medications that are not included on the insurance plan’s formulary. This means that the insurance plan will not cover the cost of these medications unless there is a medical necessity.

**Reasons Why a Medication May Be Non-Formulary**
There are several reasons why a medication may be non-formulary. Some of these reasons include:

* The medication is not effective for the treatment of the condition.
* The medication is not safe for the patient.
* There is a more cost-effective alternative medication available.

**How to Get Non-Formulary Medications Covered**
If your doctor prescribes a non-formulary medication, you can request a prior authorization from your insurance plan. A prior authorization is a request to the insurance plan to cover the cost of the medication. The insurance plan will then review the request and make a decision on whether to approve it.

**Table Summarizing Key Differences**

| Feature | Formulary Medications | Non-Formulary Medications |
| Coverage | Covered by insurance | Not covered by insurance unless there is a medical necessity |
| Cost | Lower cost | Higher cost |
| Availability | Widely available | May not be available at all pharmacies |
| Prior Authorization | Not required | May be required |

**Additional Information**

* Some insurance plans may have a tiered formulary. This means that the plan will cover certain medications at a lower cost and other medications at a higher cost.
* If you are taking a non-formulary medication, your doctor may be able to prescribe a generic version of the medication. Generic medications are typically less expensive than brand-name medications.
* You can also save money on prescription drugs by using a mail-order pharmacy. Mail-order pharmacies typically offer lower prices on medications than retail pharmacies.

Insurance Coverage for Non-Formulary Drugs

Non-formulary drugs are medications that are not included in your health insurance plan’s preferred list of covered medications. These drugs are typically more expensive than formulary drugs, and they may not be covered by your insurance plan at all. However, there are some exceptions to this rule.

In some cases, your insurance plan may cover non-formulary drugs if you meet certain criteria. For example, you may be able to get coverage if:

  • The non-formulary drug is medically necessary.
  • There is no formulary drug that is comparable to the non-formulary drug.
  • You have tried and failed to use a formulary drug, and the non-formulary drug is expected to be more effective.

If you meet one of these criteria, you can request an exception to your insurance plan’s formulary. To do this, you will need to submit a letter to your insurance company explaining why you need the non-formulary drug. You will also need to provide documentation from your doctor to support your request.

Even if you are granted an exception, your insurance plan may still only cover a portion of the cost of the non-formulary drug. In some cases, you may have to pay a higher copay or coinsurance for the drug. You should check with your insurance plan to find out what the coverage for non-formulary drugs is.

Coverage Copay
Formulary drugs $20
Non-formulary drugs $50
Non-formulary drugs with exception $30

Exception and Appeal Processes

If your non-formulary drug is not covered by your insurance, there are two main options to consider:


  • Medical Necessity: You can request an exception by providing documentation from your healthcare provider that the non-formulary drug is medically necessary for your condition.
  • No Alternative Therapy: If there are no other effective formulary drugs available, you may be able to obtain an exception.
  • Financial Hardship: In some cases, you can request an exception based on financial hardship. You will need to provide proof of your financial situation.


If an exception is denied, you can file an appeal with your insurance company. The appeal process typically involves:

  1. Submitting a written appeal, explaining why you believe the non-formulary drug should be covered.
  2. Including supporting documentation, such as medical records and documentation of your financial situation (if applicable).
  3. Requesting a review by an independent third party (if desired).

The appeals process can be lengthy and time-consuming, so it’s important to start the process as soon as possible if you need the non-formulary drug.

Tips for Success

  • Gather as much documentation as possible to support your request.
  • Be persistent and don’t give up easily.
  • If you are denied, consider reaching out to a patient advocacy group or your state insurance commissioner for assistance.

Remember, the insurance company’s decision is not always final. You have the right to appeal and advocate for the coverage you need.

Alternative Coverage Options for Non-Formulary Drugs

When a prescribed drug is not covered by your insurance plan’s formulary, it is considered non-formulary. While this can be frustrating, there are still options for obtaining coverage.

Exceptions and Appeals

  • Medical exceptions: Your doctor may appeal to the insurance company, demonstrating that the non-formulary drug is medically necessary and that other formulary drugs are not suitable alternatives.
  • Prior authorization: In some cases, your doctor can request prior authorization for the non-formulary drug, explaining its necessity and why alternative formulary drugs are not appropriate.

Tiered Coverage

Some insurance plans offer tiered coverage for non-formulary drugs:

  • Tier 1: Lower out-of-pocket costs, comparable to formulary drugs.
  • Tier 2: Higher out-of-pocket costs, typically a percentage of the drug’s cost.
  • Tier 3: Highest out-of-pocket costs, often requiring full payment.

Negotiated Rates

Your insurance company may negotiate lower rates with specific pharmacies or manufacturers for non-formulary drugs. Ask your pharmacy if they have negotiated rates for the drug you need.

Manufacturer Assistance Programs

  • Many pharmaceutical companies offer assistance programs for patients who cannot afford their non-formulary medications.
  • These programs may provide financial assistance, rebates, or free samples.

State Programs

Some states have programs that provide coverage for non-formulary drugs. Eligibility and coverage may vary based on state.

Table: Coverage Options for Non-Formulary Drugs

Option Description Limitations
Medical Exceptions Medical necessity must be demonstrated May not be approved in all cases
Prior Authorization Requires physician’s support May still result in higher out-of-pocket costs
Tiered Coverage Out-of-pocket costs vary depending on tier Higher tiers have higher costs
Negotiated Rates Lower rates may be available Negotiated rates may not apply to all pharmacies
Manufacturer Assistance Programs Financial assistance or free samples Eligibility criteria may apply
State Programs Coverage may vary by state Eligibility may be based on income or health status

Well, folks, that’s the lowdown on non-formulary drugs and insurance coverage. I hope you found this article helpful in navigating this sometimes-tricky topic. Remember, it’s always a good idea to check with your insurance provider for the most up-to-date information on your specific plan. I appreciate you taking the time to read my article, and I hope you’ll swing by again soon for more insurance insights. Take care, and stay healthy!