April/May #187 : Return to Sender - by Trenton Straube

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April / May 2013

Return to Sender

by Trenton Straube

Anthem Blue Cross sued for requiring HIV clients to order meds through the mail.

A class action lawsuit in San Diego maintains that it’s illegal for Anthem Blue Cross to force people to buy medications through the mail instead of at a pharmacy. Days before the mandatory mail policy was slated to kick in March 1, Anthem announced that due to feedback from its members, the start date was eliminated “for the time being.”

Meanwhile, the lawsuit is still on. “There are two fundamental liberties at stake here,” says Consumer Watchdog attorney Jerry Flanagan, who is helping represent the plaintiffs. Those liberties include a right to privacy—which can be invaded when people see the packages and become aware of your medical situation—and the freedom of association, which is the idea of mobility, that you’re not forced to wait at home for a delivery.

The mail policy raises other problems: Mail gets lost and stolen, meds can’t be refrigerated, and crucial relationships with pharmacists are severed (pharmacists can alert clients of drug reactions, for example, and of drug rebates).

The current case pertains to California only, Flanagan says, but the hope is that Anthem Blue Cross, owned by insurance behemoth WellPoint, will nix the policy before the case goes to court—and that other providers will follow.

Take Action: Tell Your Story!
Is your insurance company forcing you to get meds through the mail instead of your local pharmacy? Fight back! Go to ConsumerWatchdog.org and file a complaint. “We want to hear from people all around the country,” says attorney Flanagan, who hopes to end the discriminatory policy at all insurance companies nationwide. “There are different laws at play in different states, so it’s really important for us to hear from consumers so we can figure out how to deal with the legal structure.”

Search: Anthem Blue Cross, lawsuit, mail policy, HIV clients and medication

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  comments 1 - 5 (of 5 total)    

TopManPSCA, San Francisco, CA, 2013-06-13 03:23:00
I was told by California ADAP about 5 years ago that they did NOT coordinate with any mail order pharmacies. The reason I called ADAP to ask was that I had received a letter from my private health insurance company (though my partners work) that their new policy (starting 1Jan of the next year) on local pharmacies was "one and done". One fill at the local pharmacy, then it was mail order or nothing. So, I asked ADAP what would happen when I attempted to fill my Rx for my ARV. ADAP paid 100%

Mike, St. Louis, 2013-06-07 18:12:24
My mail meds were usually late arriving. I was missing doses because of the lateness, so I changed to pharmacy pick up. Now I get my refills early!

Frederick Wright, Coachella Valley, 2013-05-01 13:43:37
I have used both mail and walk up and when every things goes my way they both are great. However with out having options for me is always a little disturbing for then the customer service goes down the tube. One may perceive with no choice they have one by short hairs and is a little discomforting. My last mail order experience left me baffle sending me only one of my medicines and leaving the conversation with if you switch you can never come back to this 3 months supply. So mailing it back.

reservedcat, louisville, 2013-05-01 11:16:36
I get meds through the mail and i love it very convient and discreet.

Gary, Nashville, 2013-04-30 08:06:40
I would Love to see this done when it comes to the PCIP program and being forced to use ExpressScripts/Medco I have to fight each month even when they call for my monthly HIV medications to be properly sent to me it goes old a frustrating and your left helpless

comments 1 - 5 (of 5 total)    

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