The “100 hours” agenda of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi includes proposals for significant healthcare reform. As the Huffington Post quotes Pelosi:
We will make healthcare more affordable for all Americans, and we will begin by fixing the Medicare prescription drug program, putting seniors first by negotiating lower drug prices.
This is the first glimmer of hope in some time for the millions of uninsured and underinsured Americans seeking better health coverage. Americans are crying out for reforms that truly help the underinsured, rather than gimmicky programs that offer little real relief — which is all we get from Big Pharma.
The Blog That Ate Manhattan reports on some current prescription assistance plans that are little more than clever marketing ploys by the pharmaceutical industry. The blog explains how the “Together Rx” program was publicized as a new program designed to help the underinsured, when the reality is quite different:
There is no information-sharing opt-out option on the application. So if Pfizer is the one discounting your meds, they can share information about you with Novartis, who can share that info with Ortho. Then they can all use that information to market drugs specifically to you based on the information they’ve shared with each other. Don’t want to share your information? Too bad, you’ll have to pay full price for your medications.
A previous article on WebMD praised the convenience of Together RX, saying,
There is no cost to use the Together Rx Access card, which is accepted at many pharmacies nationwide and in Puerto Rico. Once you’ve enrolled, simply bring the card to your pharmacist along with your prescription, and receive your savings right at the pharmacy counter.
However, Bob Vineyard from the InsureBlog points out that such “savings” may be illusory:
This is just a wag, but I have seen similar programs like this, offering free Rx discount cards. Sounds good, but here is something I recently discovered.
Sometimes, how often I cannot say, the price you pay with the discount card is HIGHER THAN the regular “walk in” price at the drugstore. Yes, that’s right, you could actually pay MORE with the card than you would if you left the card at home.
Why is this?
Because the discounts are calculated off a NATIONAL wholesale price. Actual wholesale prices in your area, or at your particular pharmacy may be substantially lower than national pricing.
I used a similar card at a pharmacy as a price check against a refill. My regular, non-discounted price was $108. The price with the card was $127.
I put the card back in my wallet and kept the extra $19…
So, if you try Together Rx in an attempt to access prescription drugs at more reasonable prices, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll pay more for your medication — and a 100 percent chance that you’ll be on the Big Pharma marketing lists for a long time to come.
Just goes to show, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.9