Kuhn: Virginia General Assembly should act to limit rising out-of-pocket costs for vital medications

By Dana Kuhn as published in the Richmond Times-Dispatch

Despite paying their monthly health insurance premiums, a growing number of vulnerable Virginians simply can’t afford their prescription medications.

Health insurers are increasingly driving up patient out-of-pocket costs by charging patients a percentage of the total cost of a medication rather than a fixed, manageable copay.

Patients can be forced to pay between 25 and 40 percent of the total cost of their medications, adding up to hundreds or even thousands of dollars each month for a single treatment.

Although any Virginian can be subjected to unreasonably high out-of-pocket costs, those most likely to be affected are living with life-threatening or chronic conditions, such as cancer, hemophilia, hepatitis C, multiple sclerosis and HIV/AIDS. These patients need treatments to fight their diseases or manage their conditions, yet these Virginians are struggling to find the money to pay for them.

Several states across the country — including New York, Vermont, Maine, Delaware, Maryland, Louisiana and Montana — have already implemented copay limits for vital medications. Without similar legislation in Virginia, more and more patients throughout the state will face exorbitant out-of-pocket costs for the treatments they need.

The reality is that health insurance exists to protect Virginians from the high costs of medical care in the event that they need treatment. Making sick people bear a far larger portion of their treatment costs undermines the very concept of insurance...

"Virginia lawmakers should move swiftly this session to enact legislation that limits the out-of-pocket costs that health insurers can charge for vital medications."

Read complete article at Richmond Times-Dispatch

Click here to ask your representative to support HB 1948, legislation that limits out-of-pocket costs for vital medications!