This past Monday, we reported that average savings from international online pharmacies are now 87% on popular brand name meds, up from 85% a year ago. As Americans gain access to health insurance through state exchanges under Obamacare, which kicked off yesterday, will there still be a need for the international online pharmacy option?
It may come as a surprise, but international online pharmacies benefit people with insurance, not just the uninsured. If a plan does not cover a drug, or has a high deductible or co-pay, ordering from abroad may help those on that particular plan. Fortunately, new health plans will help millions of Americans afford needed medication at neighborhood pharmacies, but some will continue to fall through the cracks.
Twenty-one percent of Americans with prescription benefits skipped filling a prescription in 2012 because of high prices, according to the Commonwealth Fund. Therefore, unless drug prices unexpectedly come down in America, we can predict that millions of Americans will still struggle with high drug prices in the U.S., and that many of them will seek relief from international online pharmacies.
There are other reasons that Americans can’t count on Obamacare to improve their access to affordable medication, especially in 2014. Due to a delay in implementing Obamacare’s spending cap of $6,350 a year, insurance plans that use more than one benefits administrator will not be subject to the cap next year. Instead, they will apply the cap to each benefit separately. Thus, Americans choosing an insurance plan that works with an independent pharmacy benefit manager may see one cap for doctor and hospital visits of $6,350 and another cap of $6,350 for medication! See our blog post “Obamacare Out-of-Pocket Cost Delays A Bad Prescription for Consumers” for more information on this topic.
Last but not least, the new plans may leave you with huge out-of-pocket drug costs if you take expensive medications. A report in the New York Times shows that plans in some states will require patients to pay as much as 50% of a drug’s cost. Depending on the medication, 50% of a drug’s price can be prohibitive for many Americans. The Times article mentions the drug Tecfidera, which costs $4,000 a month; many Americans will struggle to make the initial payments of $2,000 or more before their out-of-pocket limit is reached.
We believe that over time Obamacare will succeed in helping millions of Americans afford medical care, including prescription medication. But the road ahead is a long one and we can’t let tens of millions continue to go without medication in the years to come. Fortunately, the lifeline of safe personal drug importation through verified international online pharmacies is available. If you choose to order from abroad, make sure you only order form a credentialed, verified pharmacy, such as those listed on PharmacyChecker.com.
We will continue to monitor and report on how Obamacare affects drug prices and access by Americans to prescription medication.Tagged with: Commonwealth Fund, New York Times, Obamacare, out-of-pocket costs