Investigating Pharma Prices

Friday, November 20, 2009

Duff Wilson, staff writer for The New York Times, discusses calls for a Congressional investigation into possible price gouging by pharmaceutical companies.


Duff Wilson

Comments [21]

Evelyn Gay from Jersey City, NJ

I work for a company that provides free mammograms every year, so female employees of all ages decide they might as well get them. Every year a couple of women in their 20's and 30's catch a lump in it's early stage.

I can't for the life of me figure out how this study is doing any good.

Nov. 20 2009 11:23 AM
Evelyn Gay from Jersey City, NJ

I work for a company that provides free mammograms every year, so female employees of all ages decide they might as well get them. Every year a couple of women in their 20's and 30's catch a lump in its early stage.

I can't for the life of me figure out how this study is doing any good.

Nov. 20 2009 11:20 AM
Karen Casamassima from New York City

Currently, the State of New York Insurance Department is responsible for supervising and regulating insurance businesses in New York State. We need to direct our energies towards those who have been tasked with the job of regulating the industry at the State level and are currently accountable. It's clear from Brian's "Good Luck" response to small business owners who called in to report unprecedented increases in insurance premiums, that Brian needs to revisit the issue again now that he has been made aware of what is going on and how dire the situation is for freelancers and small business owners. The future Health Insurance reform being debated in Washington may have something to do with the increase in insurance premiums, but what if it does not... It may be that the Insurance companies are teetering on the brink of insolvency. Perhaps they should be stress tested at the State level before we continue to buy into the delivery of health care via an insurance industry model.

Nov. 20 2009 11:16 AM
Calls'em As I Sees'em from Langley, VA

What a joke - these rate increases are brought to you by the empty promises of the Democrat Party and Obama's "reforms." By having a multi-year plan to destroy the current health care system, the insurance companies are responding to an existential threat yielding horrible consequences. So it will be for the public option and their ultimate goal of single payer national health care.

This happened recently with Democrat Party and Obama credit card "reform" with included everything EXCEPT relief from usurious rates. The consequence of this reform was that almost everyone's rates went up. I had a couple of cards with about 7%. Those cards immediately doubled their rates in advance of reform. Many people feel that the Obama admin was counting on higher rates to help the banking industry recover by once again taking from the poor to give to the rich.

Another related scandal of failed promises is that Democrats complain that medical bills force many people into bankruptcy yet they have not done one thing about making personal bankruptcy easier for working and middle class people. A mere return to the rules of 2004 would immediately help 100s of thousands of people.

This contributes too many people feeling that the Obama admin’s goal is government control and not real reform. The Dems want to keep the people broke and in crisis instead of doing what an enlightened government really should do which is to help individuals help themselves.

Nov. 20 2009 10:44 AM
Ursula Hahn from Brooklyn, NY

I participate in the AARP Medicare Drug Program provided by United Health Care. The 2009 premium has been $34.80/month; this is going up to $37.40/month beginning in January 2010. Buying 90-day supplies of two maintenance drugs (generic/Tier 1) from the Preferred Mail Service Pharmacy required no co-pay. As of January 2010, there will be a $4 co-pay per order. Looking at the price chart for 2010, co-payments are going up for Tier 1 and Tier 2 drugs for up to 31- and 90-day supplies, whereas co-payments are going down for Tier 3 drugs and remain at 33% for Specialty drugs.

Nov. 20 2009 10:31 AM
Loretta from New Jersey

We are a small business in NJ with Oxford Health Plans. For many years now Oxford had given us a 27% increase each renewal period. Subsequently, we have had to pour through the policy and others and find that each year we have to give up more benefits just to get down to a 15% increase. I hear a lot of talk about 15% increases, but what was the starting point for most, 27% ?

Nov. 20 2009 10:29 AM
Jon from NYC

Is it just me, or is it beginning to look like it pays to be uninsured?...

Nov. 20 2009 10:28 AM
Rick from Long Beach

These monumental increases shows the private health care system in its final death throws.

It will not be long before small businesses like will have to choose between paying these costs or going out of business. The result will be millions of small business employees soon being without coverage.

In my case my family pays MORE in monthly premiums than our rent. Our monthly premium is now scheduled to increase to $1,743 ($21,000 per year)in January. Something is TERRIBLY WRONG with this picture.

Nov. 20 2009 10:27 AM
Edward from NJ

Have doctors also been increasing their fees? The thing we never seem to hear is just how much your friendly family doctor makes each year.

Nov. 20 2009 10:27 AM
James Mason from Hawthorne, NJ

Relating to the premium increases I would like to point something out. Most callers are reporting near or at 16% increases, some higher. The question was raised whether or not this potentially has anything to do with what is currently going on with healthcare reform. I feel that if you do the literal math on this, you'll find the answer is obvious.

If healthcare premiums were increasing at or near 16% a year each year, our premiums would be exorbitant (much more than the $500 he quoted). Growth would be exponential. It is obvious that the current health care debate plays a role in this increase. The only thing that is up for debate is how much of a role.

Nov. 20 2009 10:26 AM
Marylin from New York

I work as a consultant and thruough the consulting company I pay for health insurance. Blue Cross in New Jersey has increased my monthly cost by 50% and my medications have increased not by 9% but by 50%. These health insurance companies are very afraid of Government Health Insurance.

Nov. 20 2009 10:25 AM
Robert from NYC (formally Hell and previous to that NYC)

I'm getting sick listening to these horror stories. How sad that these companies get away with this crap.

Nov. 20 2009 10:21 AM

Why can't businesses give employees the choice of paying the difference between the premiums of their current provider (more expensive) and their newer, cheaper choice. For example, my former employer changed from United to Blue Cross a few years ago to save money and I lost all my doctors b/c none of them took Blue Cross.

I would have happily paid the difference to keep my higher quality plan and my doctors.

Nov. 20 2009 10:20 AM
Nancy Phillips from Manhattan

My husband is self-employed and gets our insurance through Freelancers Union. The premium for our PPO is going up 25% from 2009 to 2010. The annual drug deductible is going from $100 to $300. The brand name drug copay is going from $35 to $60. Based on our 2009 history, our out-of-pocket costs would go up about 35% from 2009 to 2010. We're considering our increasingly grim options, mostly looking at huge deductibles and hoping that nothing happens to us.

Nov. 20 2009 10:19 AM
amy from brooklyn

my freelancers insurance plan has gone up 22% so with dental, i'd be paying $320 and i'm now considering going without. as a 30 year old massage therapist, i'm pretty healthy and have had a lot of expensive testing done while i've had this health insurance. i think i'll keep the dental and join a gym for some preventative care and start building a little nest egg.

Nov. 20 2009 10:19 AM

Conde Nast medical benefits starting Jan 1 are severely downgraded w huge deductibles.

Nov. 20 2009 10:15 AM
wally from nyc

I was informed YESTERDAY that my individual NY Aetna HMO policy for a single went from 879 per month to 1170 per month starting in Jan 2010. This is outrageous!
What can we do?

Nov. 20 2009 10:15 AM
helmut from brooklyn

my freelancers union health insurance is going up more than 25% starting january.

Nov. 20 2009 10:12 AM
Ana from Summit, NJ

I work in a company that used to have 30 employees and now we are 15. My boss sent an e-mail Wednesday with the subject: Just a "heads up". He says he is reviewing medical policies for next year and companies are jacking up rates again (it goes up every year, pretty much erasing any salary increase we receive). He suggests we go to the dr before the end of the year specially if we are near any deductible.

Nov. 20 2009 10:11 AM
Robert from NYC (formally Hell and previous to that NYC)

NOW there will be investigation of the pharma cos? NOW? Where were the investigation years ago when it was obvious that the companies were ripping us all off? Who was watching the stocks of these companies rising sky high instead of investing in them? Why didn't the government allow these folks to get away with overpricing in the name off R&D? Everyone tried to jump on the investment in drugs bandwagon and instead of caring that meds cost a fortune they were concerned about making loads of money on investment in the rip-off. We've been getting screwed all around even in healthcare and nothing has been done to curb it. Then "we" throw up our hands and say well there's nothing we can do about it. Well how's that for defeatist thinking! This country is a mess and certainly NOT the BEST country in the world as we've come to deceive ourselves into believing.

Nov. 20 2009 10:10 AM

Assuming those hundreds of WalMart $4 prescriptions are not violating the FTC's strict laws against "dumping," ie selling for less than it's value in order to gain market share -- then haven't they set their profit maximum?

In other words, aren't prescriptions that cost more than $4 considered "gouging?"

Nov. 20 2009 09:20 AM

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