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Today, I’d like to shed some light on some of the factors driving up the cost of health insurance. A recent Twitter post alleged that the cost of an EpiPen in 2007 was $57 and has since soared to $650. This obviously affects both medical rates and insurance coverage.  Since medication coverage is often bundled into health care insurance, carriers have a relatively new avenue for increasing rates.

Another example is the Levermir insulin pen; its cost is also high. Even with insurance, the price is $1,600 for a box of five (100 units).  We, the customers, are being hurt financially, as the pharmaceutical companies keep raising their prices and that forces the insurance carriers to increase their costs. Insurers have to offset the higher expenses of the meds. In some cases, they won’t cover them at all.

The average consumer cannot pay these new costs, so what are we to do? Well, there are options, such as medication “buddy systems,” which defray some of the expenses. GoodRX is a website and mobile app that tracks prescription prices. That same box of five Levermir insulin pens costs $469 on GoodRX. Sure, this is still a high price, but you can see that there is a significant difference. There are also state programs in place designed to keep keep pharmaceutical companies from increasing medication costs to ridiculous levels.

Here’s something else to think about… in the fall of 2017, Cigna Corporation said it would no longer cover opiates, which the insurer calls a “high-risk” class of drugs for pain management, due to addiction issues. This tells me that at least some insurance carriers are playing it safe by only covering lower risk medications in their coverage plans. Here’s Cigna’s report: https://www.cigna.com/newsroom/news-releases/2017/cigna-is-committed-to-reducing-opioid-use-removing-oxycontin-from-group-commercial-drug-lists-on-1118

The bottom line is … always consult your physician about prescriptions and medications. And, keep in mind that GoodRX may be just what the doctor ordered. You can pull up the website or app while in your physician’s office and ask informed questions to make sure you are getting the meds and the price that are right for you.