The Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce in their Monday, April 11 ad in the Daily Sentinel, announced that it OPPOSES Colorado House Bill HB 16-1361, the “Patient Choice in Pharmacy” bill, which would prohibit health insurance companies from restricting subscribers’ ability to select a pharmacy or pharmacist of their choice. The bill also prohibits insurance companies from imposing extra co-payments, fees or restrictions on subscribers if they choose to use a pharmacy outside the insurance company’s network, as long the pharmacy/pharmacist has a valid CO license and meets some other criteria.
The G.J Chamber opposes citizens’ ability to freely choose where to shop for medications. Without this bill, smaller locally-owned pharmacies that are not in an insurance company’s network will lose businesses to bigger chains stores or mail order pharmacies that insurance companies tell subscribers they have to use.
Once again, the Chamber opposes a measure that would help smaller and locally-owned businesses, and that is beneficial to all citizens and working people.
Dr. April Goggans, the first solo medical practitioner to open a concierge practice in the Grand Valley
Doctors in Grand Junction who have gotten frustrated with the modern bureaucracies of health care are adopting an entirely new, less complicated and more satisfying business model that cuts out insurance companies completely and lets them spend generous amounts of time with patients.
It’s called “concierge medicine,” and in this business model, patients pay a single yearly fee to a doctor. In exchange, they get fast access directly to the doctor via phone, secure email, text, 24/7 video chat or in person. At office visits, which can be gotten on short notice, concierge doctors give their patients highly personalized care and spend as much time as necessary to answer every last question their patients may have about their condition. And if later on after the appointment you think of something you forgot to ask, just call, text, or email your doctor and get an answer right away.
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Big health insurers have found yet another new way to extort customers — by buying up “pharmacy benefit managers,” (companies that supply medications to people) and then forcing subscribers to buy medications exclusively from the drug distributors they own. People are receiving letters from their health insurance companies telling them they must either buy medications from a specific company they own and get medications through the mail, or patronize a retail drug store of their choice and pay a much higher price. Prices may be lower for insurance companies under this kind of arrangement, but policyholders miss out on face-to-face interaction with pharmacists, who verbally counsel customers on drug dosing instructions and dangerous interactions with other drugs. Herding people towards a single option drug supplier is also taking a toll on neighborhood pharmacies who have been serving the same families for generations. The trend towards consolidation in the drug sales market starkly limits consumer choice. Just three major pharmacy benefit management companies dominate the drug delivery market: Express Scripts Holding, which recently bought Medco for $29 billion, CVS Caremark, and OptumRX, a subsidiary that now belongs to the big health insurance company UnitedHealthcare Group.
Source: Los Angeles Times (consumer advocate David Lazarus), May 4, 2012