Workers Paying Larger Share for Drug Plans

June 12, 2003

Employers and health plans are increasing employee contributions to purchase certain drugs -- and refusing reimbursements entirely for medications considered non-essential.

  • Some companies have been increasing employee copayments for some drugs in recent years, and some plans are now imposing deductibles as high as $150 -- before medicines are covered.
  • Or they have begun to require employees to pay as much as half the retail costs of the drugs.
  • Still other plans are paying for certain expensive drugs only if a doctor first tries a less expensive treatment and then petitions the health plan for approval.

For example, many health plans now require written approval from a doctor before they will agree to pay anything for prescription alternatives to the allergy drug Claritin -- which recently became available without a prescription.

Experts confirm that the cutback in drug benefits is helping to slow the overall growth in spending on health care.

Source: Milt Freudenheim, "Workers Paying a Larger Share for Drug Plans," New York Times, June 12, 2003.

 

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