Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Trouble in Rx City

FoIB Jeff M tipped us to this interesting (baffling?) development:

"It turns out her insurance company may be overcharging her for the prescription, clawing back money ... United HealthCare, makes customers pay a premium on some prescription drugs, charging them more than the actual cost – clawing back money from the pharmacy and customer."

There are, of course, many levels here, and I'm only going to address a few.

First, we've talked about PBM's before (here's a good primer); briefly, they're a way for carriers to rein in runaway prescription drug expenses (which are a disproportionally large driver of health insurance rates). On the other hand, they're by no means the only available way to purchase meds:

"[A]s more folks access alternative delivery options (such as from Canada or other exotic locales), these kinds of processes will need to be implemented."

Which brings me to the question that this really elicits: why is it that consumers will spend hours, sometimes days, on Amazon to save $25 on a new TV, but can't be bothered to do a little shopping for their meds, especially those they'll be taklng for a while and which can really add up? I realize that this doesn't apply to the antibiotics one takes to get over an illness, but for things like insulin, or lipitor or the like, why would you not shop around?

Jeff pointed out that some friends of his are prime examples: "I've quit talking with them about the need for life insurance outside of the paltry amount they have through their employer and the need for a will given they have 3 children.  For him, it's more important to have the latest iphone and fancy wheels/tires for his truck."

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