"Revolutionizing Industries: From PBM Rebates to Airplane Boarding"

Ben H.

Hatched by Ben H.

Sep 07, 2023

3 min read


"Revolutionizing Industries: From PBM Rebates to Airplane Boarding"


In today's article, we delve into two seemingly unrelated topics - the surprising data on employer-PBM rebate pass-through arrangements in 2023 and the inefficiencies of airplane boarding methods. While these may appear unrelated, both topics shed light on the need for transparency, efficiency, and innovative thinking in various industries. Let's explore the commonalities between these two areas and uncover actionable advice for improvement.

The Impact of Greater Transparency in PBM Rebate Pass-Through Arrangements:

The pharmacy benefit management (PBM) industry has been under scrutiny, leading to a push for greater transparency and full pass-through of rebates to plan sponsors. Surprisingly, recent data reveals that only about 60% of employers report receiving all rebates from their PBMs for traditional and specialty drugs. This figure is significantly lower than what PBMs claim. Furthermore, one-third of employers opt for spread pricing for their pharmacy network.

This discrepancy in pass-through percentages raises concerns about the lack of transparency within the PBM industry. Employers, especially smaller ones, seem to be at a disadvantage, receiving fewer rebates. It is essential for employers to advocate for transparency and ensure that they receive the full benefits of rebates negotiated by their PBMs. This can be achieved through contract negotiations and by demanding a minimum guarantee of rebate pass-through.

Revamping Airplane Boarding Methods for Efficiency:

The seemingly chaotic process of boarding an airplane has long been a subject of frustration for passengers and researchers alike. Countless studies and simulations have shown that the standard boarding method, which typically involves boarding passengers in groups based on seat location, is the slowest and least satisfying.

However, alternative methods have proven to be more efficient. In a 2012 study by Mythbusters, Southwest's boarding method emerged as the fastest, closely followed by the outside-in method, where passengers board in an order of window seats, middle seats, and then aisle seats. A physicist named Jason Steffen took this research further and developed a choreographed sequence boarding system, eliminating aisle waiting altogether.

The key takeaway from these findings is the importance of data-driven decision-making. Airlines should consider adopting more efficient boarding methods to enhance customer satisfaction and reduce boarding time, thereby improving overall efficiency.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Advocate for Transparency: Employers should actively negotiate contracts with PBMs to ensure full pass-through of rebates. Demand a minimum guarantee to secure the maximum benefits for employees and maximize cost savings.
  • 2. Embrace Innovative Boarding Methods: Airlines should explore alternative boarding methods, such as the outside-in or choreographed sequence boarding, to streamline the boarding process. By incorporating data-driven approaches, airlines can significantly reduce boarding time and enhance customer satisfaction.
  • 3. Prioritize Research and Development: Both the PBM industry and airlines should invest in research and development to continually improve their processes. By staying updated with emerging trends and leveraging technology, these industries can address inefficiencies, increase transparency, and enhance overall customer experience.


The surprising data on employer-PBM rebate pass-through arrangements and the inefficiencies of airplane boarding methods highlight the need for enhanced transparency, efficiency, and innovation in various industries. By advocating for transparency in PBM contracts and adopting data-driven approaches to boarding, employers and airlines can revolutionize their respective industries. It is crucial for stakeholders to prioritize research and development, continuously seeking opportunities for improvement. By taking these actionable steps, we can pave the way for a more transparent, efficient, and customer-centric future.

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