Apparently, its to increase their own profit margin and not to pool resources of many to make medical costs cheaper. Or at least that is what I am getting from this article in today's Chronicle where UnitedHealth Group, the nation's second largest health insurer, is urging some of its insurees to buy large doses of medicines and cut them in half.
Basically, they are telling people that medicines are too expensive and the co-pays are not going to come down. Therefore, they want people to buy dosages that are double what they are supposed to take and then cut the pill in half.
Now, I have done this in the past, but that was usually because the doctor was taking me down in my medication to a point where they do not make a pill in the amount he or she wanted me to take. And this is done at a doctor's instruction, not an insurance company's. However, in this instance, the insurance companies are saying to their insurees "too bad that costs are so high, we need to keep our profits, so instead of finding some other way to ease the burden, we want you to to play pharmacist."
And that is essentially what they want. Pills do not always split nicely down the center. This means that people could end up getting under dosages and over dosages. With some medications, this will harm the effect the drug is supposed to have on the person. And what is the upside to the patient? By UnitedHealth's estimate a 1 to 2 percent savings. So rather than not be as profitable as possible, they would rather pass it on to the insured. To me, this does not seem like the best way to keep clients healthy.
But never fear, guess who is against this? That's right the drug companies. However, they are claiming to be against it because of the risk to the patients who use their products. Somehow, what I think they are really worried about is that this will eat into their profits as well.
So what is the real problem here? Drug costs are too high. Why is that? Well, I'm sure that the drug companies would say that it is the lawyers that are driving up the costs with their "frivolous litigation". They would probably say that they need to have the high prices in order to recoup the costs of developing the drugs. However, it would seem that the cost is artificially inflated because of the monopoly the companies have over the formulation because of their patent rights. This allows the drug company, and not the market, to set the price for the drug.