H-HEALTH NEWS

May 13, 2013 2:15 PM by Associated Press

Huge drug cost disparities seen in health overhaul

WASHINGTON (AP) - Industry analysts and advocates warn that cancer patients could face high costs for medications under President Barack Obama's health care law.

Where you live could make a huge difference in what you'll pay.

To try to keep premiums low, some states like California are allowing insurers to charge patients a hefty share of the cost for expensive medications used to treat cancer, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and other life-altering chronic diseases.

In California, patients would pay up to 30 percent of the cost. The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society says that for one widely used cancer drug, Gleevec, the patient could pay more than $2,000 for a month's supply.

Critics fear most states will follow California's lead, and that could defeat the purpose of Obama's overhaul, because some of the sickest patients may be unable to afford their prescriptions.

A spokesman for Covered California said state officials are trying to balance between two conflicting priorities: comprehensive coverage and affordable premiums.

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