Private Insurance

A Trump era health care rule is breaking the law—and harming patients

Among Americans who take prescription drugs, a quarter struggle to afford their medication. For those who are in poor health or have low incomes, the portion is even higher. These days, the rising cost of everyday goods and services is forcing more people to face difficult decisions and ask themselves: How can I pay for utilities, the groceries, or the medicine that’s keeping me alive? Now imagine that someone offers you financial assistance for the express purpose of paying for your medicine—problem apparently solved. But in a cruel twist, your health insurer pockets that assistance, without counting it toward your annual deductible or out-of-pocket maximum. That’s why the HIV+Hepatitis Policy Institute, the Diabetes Leadership Council, and the Diabetes Patient Advocacy Coalition filed suit in federal court, challenging the Trump-era federal government rule that allows insurers and pharmacy benefit managers to carry out this harmful practice.

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Rely on drugs? Read the fine print

Over the next few weeks, thousands will select insurance plans for 2022, whether on a state exchange or through their employer. A health plan’s fine print hardly makes for riveting reading. So most folks just focus on the monthly premium, make sure their doctor is covered, and ensure cost-sharing responsibilities are manageable. But that fine print is important, especially when it comes to how insurers treat co-pay assistance, or financial help that drug companies offer to patients to assist them with prescription drug out-of-pocket costs. [This opinion piece also appeared in The Lebanon Democrat, The Leader/Observer, Forest Hills/Rego Park Times, Long Island City/Astoria/Jackson Heights Journal, Greenpoint Star, and Brooklyn Downtown Star.]

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