Health insurance plans and their pharmacy benefit managers shouldn’t tell patients which pharmacies to use, a practice known as “patient steering,” according to 84% percent of respondents to a new national consumer survey released by the National Community Pharmacists Association.
More specifically, 78% say insurance plans and PBMs shouldn’t require patients to use pharmacies they own and they shouldn’t be allowed to require patients to get their medicines through their mail-order pharmacy.
“Being able to choose their pharmacy continues to be a patient priority,” said B. Douglas Hoey, pharmacist, NCPA CEO. “Despite the pandemic having changed other consumer behaviors, they want access to a local health care provider who knows them and will help them find the best, most affordable treatments.”
The survey of 716 registered voters was conducted Feb. 14-15 by Public Policy Polling.
Additionally, nearly 60% say pharmacies shouldn’t have to lose money on prescriptions due to low reimbursement from insurance plans and PBMs. More specifically, 50% say insurance plans and PBMs should reimburseme pharmacies enough to cover the cost of COVID-19 oral antiviral medicines and the costs to dispense the drug, and to make a small profit.
“Patients understand that pharmacies are unlikely to be able to offer these vital therapies if miserly insurance companies hoard the patient’s monthly premiums for their own corporate gain rather than acknowledging the pharmacist’s extra time and coordination that goes into making sure patients are safe and get the most benefit from these potent drugs,” Hoey said. “They know intuitively that access to drugs will dry up and pharmacies will close.
Policymakers must acknowledge this too, and they should take action. These are important treatments that can prevent costly hospital stays and save lives, and they should be available to the patients who need and are appropriate for them.”