Link to full article: http://www.nationaljournal.com/healthcare/a-few-seniors-use-banned-drug-coupons-20120416
Six percent of seniors have used coupons to purchase brand name drugs even though Medicare has banned that tactic, according to a survey from the National Coalition on Health Care.
“As policymakers balance the books in Medicare, our research confirms that drug coupons are wasting Medicare and taxpayer dollars,” John Rother, CEO of the National Coalition on Health Care, said in a statement. If the 6 percent of survey respondents is true of all Medicare recipients, NCHC estimates that 2 million Medicare beneficiaries are using coupons to buy drugs that end up costing the government more money.
Drug companies distribute the coupons to medical offices or via the internet. When buying brand-name prescription drugs, consumers redeem the coupons to reduce or eliminate higher co-pays. Giving coupons for brand-name drugs is legal in all state private insurance markets, except for Massachusetts, but is banned in Medicare and other federal programs. “Consumers might see lower costs for brand-name drugs, but their health plans still end up paying more to the brand-name manufacturer. That means higher costs for everyone,” Rother said.
The Congressional Budget Office says it costs Medicare $76 each time it pays for a more expensive brand-name drug when an affordable generic is available.