Is it worth it? Health insurer offers clients $ 500 to switch medication – WSOC TV

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Many doctors are concerned after learning that a health insurer is offering some clients a financial incentive to stop taking a certain arthritis medication.

Cigna is offering eligible patients a $ 500 prepaid debit card to stop taking Cosentyx and move on.

Jason Stoogenke of Action 9 found that many doctors are concerned that their patients prefer quick money to their health.

The American College of Rheumatology criticized the program saying that “financially urging patients to switch drugs is a mistake.”

The organization drew up a resolution, which even mentions Cigna by name, which the American Medical Association adopted. Read it here.

WADA says it is against “the practice of insurance companies offering financial incentives to patients to change treatment” and would even support “legislation that prohibits” the practice.

The program is also rubbing many local rheumatologists the wrong way. One called it “Cigna’s scandalous act,” while another told Stoogenke “it doesn’t sound very ethical on Cigna’s part. “

Some patients, like June Suttles, have said they have tried other medications, but Cosentyx is best for them. She suffers from psoriatic arthritis which causes pain in her joints, especially her legs.

“I have used a number of different medications, from pills to topicals to injections… none of them worked really well,” she told Stoogenke.

“About four years ago my arthritis doctor told me he wanted me to try a new drug called Cosentyx. It was actually like a wonder drug; in a month I was able to see tremendous results, ”Suttles said.

She said Stoogenke Cigna didn’t offer her one of the $ 500 debit cards, but she allegedly said no. “Because I know how effective this drug is and how upsetting it would be,” she said.

“I don’t think they’re doing things that other companies don’t, but they seem to be more aggressive in using this tactic to get patients to change,” said Lisa Rasmussen, professor of ethics medical at UNC Charlotte.

She says the real problem may be with our health care system in general. “I think we should always be trying to save money for patients, for the health care system, for taxpayers. The question is, what do we lose when we go out too aggressively for it. “

Stoogenke contacted Cigna, who said:

“We are committed to making drugs affordable for clients and clients, and this pilot program is designed to help achieve that goal. In recent years, brand name treatments for inflammatory conditions have been a major driver of drug spending. In addition to regularly reviewing our forms, we have launched a limited pilot program to encourage eligible Cigna clients to talk to their physicians about suitable alternatives – those with similar clinical efficacy, but at a much lower cost. In all cases, the prescribing physician and the patient make the final decision.

Stoogenke has also reached out to other insurers to ask if they offer debit cards to patients to stop taking Cosentyx or other drugs.

Blue Cross Blue Shield said no.

Medicare said neither, but sometimes offers people up to $ 600 to make healthy lifestyle choices and take their medications the way they’re supposed to.

A few other insurers did not respond in time for this report.

Stoogenke encourages patients to be honest with their doctors so that they can treat you well.

(WATCH: Woman from Charlotte shares her journey from the bottom of the class to becoming a doctor)


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