In January, shortly after Robin Steinwand, 53, who has multiple sclerosis renewed her insurance policy with Kaiser Permanente, she went to refill her prescription for Copaxone. She had been insured with Kaiser for 17 years through her husband, a federal employee, and had had no complaints about the coverage.
She had been taking Copaxone since multiple sclerosis was diagnosed in 2000, buying a 30 days’ supply at a time. And even though the drug costs $1,900 a month, Kaiser required only a $20 co-payment.
Not this time. When Ms. Steinwand went to pick up her prescription at a pharmacy near her home in Silver Spring, Md., the pharmacist handed her a bill for $325.
There must be a mistake, Ms. Steinwand said. So the pharmacist checked with her supervisor. The new price was correct. Kaiser’s policy had changed. Now Kaiser was charging 25 percent of the cost of the drug up to a maximum of $325 per prescription. Her annual cost would be $3,900 and unless her insurance changed or the drug dropped in price, it would go on for the rest of her life.
“I charged it, then got into my car and burst into tears,” Ms. Steinwand said. She needed the drug, she said, because it can slow the course of her disease. And she knew she would just have to pay for it, but it would not be easy.
This is an excerpt from a New York Times article from April 14, 2008, on the increasing costs of co-payments for certain high-priced drugs. Read the complete article here.