Patient Advocacy Groups: Despite the Affordable Care Act, Insurers Still Working to Limit Patient Drug Access

August 18, 2014 03:21 PM EDT

A strongly worded letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell, signed by more than 300 patient advocacy groups, accuses insurance providers of employing discriminatory policies designed to limit patient access to certain essential drugs – despite the provisions outlined in the Affordable Care Act.

“[W]e are increasingly aware,” the letter reads in part, “that new enrollees, especially those with chronic health conditions, are still facing barriers to care...” Among the tactics cited include “restrictive formularies and inadequate provider networks; high cost-sharing; and a lack of plan transparency.”

The letter was the subject of a story by the Associated Press, subsequently picked up by ABC News, which stressed that drug access was a primary concern, as patients are stymied by confusing (or non- existent) policy language when selecting their insurance plan and then often face crippling co-payments at the pharmacy when they go to pick up their medications.

“There is no question,” Washington state insurance commissioner told ABC News when asked if discrimination by insurance companies was remerging. “The question is whether we are catching it or not.”



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