The proportion of medication fills requiring patients to spend more than $100 per month out-of-pocket increased from 8.4 to 11 percent for plans subject to parity laws, while plans outside of the laws saw a slight decline.
Dusetzina said that one issue that may be impacting cost is that the parity laws do not address the affordability of cancer drugs.
Indeed, what good is parity if PBMs and health insurers continue to shift every patient who needs cancer drugs into the co-insurance or highest cost sharing tier?
Adam Fein's analysis of cost shifting underscores why oral parity is being undermined:
"In the charts below, I summarize employers’ 2017 pharmacy benefits by examining (1) cost sharing tier structures, (2) average copayments, by formulary tier, (3) type of cost sharing (coinsurance and copayment), and (4) coinsurance structures. I’ll investigate the growing role of deductibles in a follow-up article.
This year’s results show massive cost-shifting for specialty drugs. For the first time, a majority of plans have four tiers. Economically-debilitating coinsurance—in some cases with no limit on out-of-pocket expenses—is common.
When people complain about “drug costs,” they are actually thinking about the share of costs that they pay. Last week, I highlighted Prime Therapeutics’ data showing very slow growth in post-rebate drug spending. Given the new Kaiser/HRET survey, it looks like patients may not always be getting the benefit of lower costs."
The problem is that much of the price of drugs is being used to subsidize rebates and discounts for PBMs and insurers and the copay assistance required by higher cost sharing. Drug companies are paying rebates and then paying for the markup on the rebated prices at the backend. Where's the incentive to reduce patient costs? Consumerization requires a business model that rewards consumers, instead of exploiting them.