Fewer Choices, Rising Costs for Patient Medications
Talk about an outrage for patients everywhere: imagine if you needed life saving drugs, but were forced to get them through your insurance company’s mail order service or have to pay the full cost of these life-saving medications if you wanted to get them elsewhere.
That’s exactly the choice being forced on patients in California who require these expensive “specialty drugs”. As of March 1, patients with Anthem Blue Cross are being told that they have to start getting these types of drugs from Anthem’s mail order service. If they try to fill their prescriptions at their local retail pharmacies, they’re considered “out of network” and will have to bear the cost of the drugs themselves.
Jacques Lieberman, an HIV-positive patient who has to take some of the these so-called “specialty drugs” hit the nail on the head with a few questions: “Who is Anthem to tell me where I have to buy my medicine?” and “Why should I have to buy it from some mail-order company instead of the drugstore that I have been going to for a long time?”
David Lazarus of The LA Times cuts to the heart of the matter:
“Anthem is a corporate behemoth whose parent earned $2.6 billion in profit last year by managing people’s insurance claims while charging as much as possible in premiums and co-pays.
The company is now seeking an average 18% rate hike for more than 630,000 individual policyholders in California, with some customers facing increases of as much as 25%.
Liberman and others who need specialty meds have to use the drugstore of Anthem’s choosing because, well, that’s in Anthem’s best interest. It’s likely in the patients’ best interest as well, at least as far as costs go.”
The issue might be a little bigger than Anthem Blue Cross forcing some patients into their mail-order drug program. Lazarus goes on to report in another LA Times article that it might also be illegal for the company to require some of their policyholders to use a single mail-order pharmacy. The state attorney general’s office is looking into the matter now because California’s law states that “no one can be discriminated against because of a medical condition.