Insurers Quietly Hike Rx Costs

Plans slip in soaring co-pays for most expensive drugs
By Greg Atwan,  Newser User
Posted Apr 14, 2008 9:47 AM CDT
Pharmacist Salvatore Ciolino, Jr. reaches for a prescription bottle at a Gloucester, Mass. pharmacy, Friday, Dec. 14, 2007.    (AP Photo/Lisa Poole)
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(Newser) – Pricey prescription drugs are getting pricier, and, the New York Times reports, insurance companies are asking patients to shoulder more of the burden. Insurers are quietly phasing out traditional drug plans, which charge a fixed co-pay of $20 or $30 to fill a prescription, in favor of so-called Tier 4 plans, which squeeze patients who need certain expensive drugs for as much as a third of their cost—which can run to thousands of dollars a month.

Tier 4 began with Medicare, but has bled into traditional plans, including the ones offered by employers—often with minimal and inconspicuous notification. One MS victim saw her co-pays suddenly soar from $20 for a month's supply to $325. “This is an erosion of the traditional concept of insurance,” one health economist says. “Those beneficiaries who bear the burden of illness are also bearing the burden of cost.”