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This Week's Editorial
Thinking About Health PDF Print E-mail
Written by Trudy Lieberman, Rural Health News Service   

Insurers shift higher prices for generic drugs to patients

What I like to call The Great Cost Shift in American health care marches on with the approach of this year’s insurance enrollment season. That’s when all of us who get coverage from employers, the new state exchanges, Medicare Advantage plans or from a Medicare prescription drug plan are likely to find that choosing drug coverage just became harder. Not that it was ever easy.

Instead of paying a single lower amount for any generic drug — either a copayment (a set amount) or coinsurance (a higher percentage of the bill) — many Americans who use pharmaceuticals are finding themselves paying lower prices for what insurers are calling a “preferred” generic drug and higher prices for drugs it places in its “non-preferred” category.

Yep. That’s exactly what health insurers have been doing for the last several years with brand drugs trying to force consumers to pick ones with the lowest out-of-pocket costs. The theory was that if patients wanted the highly advertised brand drug, they could dig into their pockets to pay for it.

Those drugs, of course, are more expensive for insurers, too, since they are paying a portion of the drug’s cost. When patients choose cheaper drugs, that lowers their outlay as well.

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Holyoke Enterprise October 16, 2014