Pharmacy network, UnitedHealthcare West - 2022 UnitedHealthcare Administrative Guide

A member may fill prescriptions from any network provider pharmacy in the pharmacy directory or online at

A member who obtains a prescription from a non-network pharmacy will not be eligible for reimbursement of any charges incurred unless the prescription received was not available from a participating pharmacy (e.g., urgent or emergent prescriptions, after hours, out of the service area or Part D-covered vaccines provided by the health care provider).

Mail service

Each UnitedHealthcare West member with a prescription drug benefit is eligible to use our prescription mail service.

When appropriate, you may write prescriptions for a 3-month 90 calendar day supply and up to 3 additional refills. Only medications taken for chronic conditions should be ordered through the mail. The member may obtain acute prescription needs, such as antibiotics and pain medications, through a network pharmacy site to avoid delay in treatment.

You may also elect to discourage members from using the mail service for medications where large quantities dispensed at one time to the member may pose a problem (e.g., tranquilizer).

Pharmacy formulary

The UnitedHealthcare formulary includes most generic drugs/medications and a broad selection of brand name drugs/ medications. Prescription drugs and medications listed on the formulary are considered a covered benefit. However, select formulary medications may require prior authorization to be covered.

Many members have a 3-tier pharmacy benefit plan with coverage of formulary generics, formulary brand name drugs and non- formulary drugs. A prior authorization process may apply to certain non-formulary drugs.

We update the formulary twice a year, in January and July. Health care provider requests for formulary review of medications or preauthorization guidelines are welcome. Find formulary changes on, or priorauth > Clinical Pharmacy and Specialty Drugs.

Non-formulary medications

Non-formulary prescriptions/medications not provided as a plan benefit are the member’s financial responsibility, unless the prescribing health care provider requests and receives prior authorization for the non-formulary medications and the member meets criteria for coverage.

Commercial plan members may also have coverage when their employer purchases an Open Formulary or Buy-up Plan. The member may be charged the usual and customary cost of the medication or the non-formulary copayment depending on the member’s benefit design.

Drug utilization review program

UnitedHealthcare West is dedicated to working with our network providers to supply information and education needed for effective management in growing cost of pharmaceutical care. Our clinical pharmacists can identify and analyze areas where health care providers may be able to prescribe products considered effective as well as economical.

Additionally, our pharmacy staff can help identify when a more detailed review of therapy may improve member care, such as:

  • Overuse of controlled substances.
  • Duplicate therapies.
  • Drug interactions.
  • Polypharmacy.

Through pharmacist review and information, health care providers are given the data needed to better manage the quality of their members’ care while also managing pharmacy program costs.

Prior authorization process

We delegate prior authorization services to OptumRx®. OptumRx staff adhere to benefit plan-approved criteria, National Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee (NPTC) practice guidelines, and other professionally recognized standards.

Request authorizations:

  • Online: > Prior authorizations
  • To simplify the prior authorization experience, health care professionals can submit a real-time prior authorization request 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, through one of the online services found at After logging on with your unique National Provider Identifier (NPI) number and password, you may submit member details securely online, enter a diagnosis and medication justification for the requested medication and, in many cases, receive authorization instantly. Otherwise, you may verbally submit a prior authorization request by:
  • Phone: 1-855-812-4301

California Commercial products: Prescribing providers in California must use the  Prescription Drug Prior Authorization Request Form when submitting authorization requests to OptumRx.

Also, the California utilization management delegates may have contractual responsibilities for payment of certain prescription medications. When the delegate requires prior authorization for use of those drugs prescribed by their health care providers, the delegate must also require the use of Optum Prescription Drug Prior Authorization Request Form. The delegate must have a policy and process in place and be able to demonstrate compliance.

You can call the OptumRx Prior Authorization department at 1-855-812-4301 to either submit a verbal prior authorization request or to request a CA state-mandated fax form.