Barring Insurers From Non-Medical Switching Of Prescriptions

Des Moines, Iowa — A bill on its way to the governor would prohibit insurance companies from forcing Iowa customers to switch to a different prescription drug if there’s no medical reason for the change — and the patient’s condition is stable.

Substituting a less expensive generic drug for a brand-name medication with the same active ingredients would still be allowed, however. Representative Thomas Moore of Griswold says it will prevent insurance companies from denying coverage or requiring a higher co-payment in the middle of a health plan’s year.

Representative Megan Srinivas, a physician from Des Moines, says she’s seen patients suffer from prescription drug switches ordered by their insurance company.

Insurance companies say the switches let them offer patients alternatives when pharmaceutical companies raise the price of a drug in the middle of an insurance plan’s year. Medicare, the government’s health care plan for seniors, prohibits midyear changes unless the federal agency that oversees the program authorizes it.  

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