In a move that threatens the health and privacy of patients, Blue Cross of California has illegally targeted HIV/AIDS patients, and other seriously ill consumers, with a new program that will bar them from local pharmacies, according to a new statewide class action lawsuit. To see the lawsuit filed by Consumer Watchdog and Whatley Kallas, LLC here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/anthem_complaint.final_.1.11.13.pdf
Under the new program, HIV/AIDS patients’ insurance policies will no longer cover medications purchased at local pharmacies. These patients will instead be required to purchase their prescription drugs from a mail order pharmacy, while Blue Cross enrolled who do not suffer from one of the targeted health conditions under the same policies will continue to enjoy full access to the pharmacies of their choice. Mail order should be a choice and not required if the client prefers to pick up their medications in person.
The change is discriminatory under state civil rights law and potentially devastating for HIV/AIDS patients. Blue Cross’s change will also cause consumers to lose access to drug discounts available only at retail pharmacies, which save patients thousands of dollars each year. Many rely on their local pharmacist who, working directly with the patients, can monitor potentially life-threatening adverse drug interactions. Pharmacists also provide essential advice and counseling that help HIV/AIDS patients and their families navigate the challenges of living with a chronic and often debilitating condition. Additionally, the time lag associated with mail order medication could be life-threatening.
“Blue Cross should not be allowed to compromise the health and privacy of HIV/AIDS patients,” said Consumer Watchdog staff attorney Jerry Flanagan. “This poorly conceived plan to sever the relationship between patient and medical professional should be prohibited.” This early move by a major insurance company is troubling and hopefully not the ‘trend’ for the new upcoming Health Care Law. Otherwise this could be a huge gray area that would affect many across this country. Would you like any of your medications to come via the mail vs picking them up? Thoughts?