Drug Price Transparency
Becky E. Hites
July 13, 2020
I have several prescriptions and when I dropped my health insurance coverage due to the prohibitively high price that I literally couldn’t afford and the lack of tangible benefit that I had received for the prior three years, I was quite concerned about what would happen to the price of my drugs. I have a number of friends and co-workers who buy their drugs from Canada because of the large price disparity.
We put our trust in “insurance” because we’ve been conditioned to believe that our lives will be in jeopardy without it.
I was shocked because when I went to “cash” prices and did a little bit of research about pharmacies that were oriented to non-insured customers, the cost of my prescriptions actually went down from what I was paying under my insurance.
We trust that our insurance plan will provide the best options for us, and we’ve become uncomfortable with taking control and actually becoming informed about our options and the related cost associated with the various procedures.
This is partially perpetuated by the system that doesn’t identify what the cost actually is, and submits exorbitant bills to our insurance companies that then get discounted to the “negotiated” rate. We’re led to believe that we don’t have the ability to obtain that rate for ourselves. I use a holistic doctor who is cash at the door which allows me to budget and make the decision when the cost is worth the benefit of using his services. I use a massage therapist who operates the same way.
Why is it when it comes to our health care we are ok with this “black box” system where we get treated, whatever way they doctors and hospitals deem necessary, without any upfront disclosure of what the cost will be and any negotiation (or even a right to refuse service) about what the monetary compensation to them will be?
We don’t buy houses that way, or cars, or vacations, or even our groceries.
I’m not advocating for a planned system but am fully in the camp of a open market that offers reward for investment and risk taking (in state-of-the art equipment and developing new procedures and drugs). My dentist seems to do just fine making those investments and his prices (while high) are disclosed up front.
It’s not the price that I object to (although there could be an argument made there too) but the “gotcha” factor that encourages blind submission and acceptance that “they” know what’s best for us. It’s “unAmerican” in my opinion.
As your representative in Washington, DC, I will be looking for ways to shift the policies in the medical arena to greater transparency and a more “fair” playing field.
We have the greatest medical system in the world. People from every nation come here for top caliber care if they can afford the expense. It’s worthy of protection, and I’m not suggesting a socialization of any sort.
In some instances, there are work arounds to the high cost – my college roommate’s son requires an exorbitantly expensive drug and every year they’re granted “assistance” to offset the unaffordable cost. So I ask myself, “Why?”, why do they have to go through the uncertainty and anxiety every year until they get the notice that his drug will once again be made available to them at a price they can afford.