The New York’s Times carried a sobering story today on the effect of high co-pays for certain drugs. According to the story, “Health insurance companies are rapidly adopting a new pricing system for very expensive drugs, asking patients to pay hundreds and even thousands of dollars for prescriptions for medications that may save their lives or slow the progress of serious diseases.”
The health plans used to charge flat co-pays — $30, for example — but are now charging a percentage of the total cost. The problem is the total cost, in some cases, is astronomical. One woman now has a copay for Copaxone, used to treat multiple sclerosis, of about $4,000 a year.
Where would the insurance companies get the idea? According to an April 2006 story in the Times, Medicare patients with cancer got stuck with similar costs when the Part D program went into effect.
From time to time, we read about these cases, but how prevalent are they? And are people forgoing treatment because of the copays?
If you are or know someone in this situation, please e-mail me. I’d love to talk to you about your situation.