A proposed bill in the state Legislature would give people who take prescription drugs for chronic illnesses more notice when their out-of-pocket costs increase.
House Bill 218 would require insurance companies to give patients a 90-day notification, instead of the 45 days currently required. Sponsors of the bill say the goal is to protect patients from sudden changes that may affect whether they're able to pay for medication.
Specialty drugs fall under most insurance policies' Tier 4, whose cost is usually a co-insurance -- a percentage of the price of the drug, instead of a co-pay or flat fee.
Brenda Robertson of Eagle River, says her husband Steven's medication for multiple sclerosis was about $30 a month until June 2011 -- when it jumped to more than $1,000 a month, under insurance through his employer. She says she supports the proposed bill, but says even with a 90-day notice, people with chronic illnesses will still be left with few alternatives.
"In 45 days, 90 days, 120 days most families aren't going to be able to afford $1,000 a month," Robertson said. "I dont care if you give them six months; they just don't have the access to that kind of money."
The bill is in the Labor and Commerce Committee.
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