Surprise: Specialty Drug Fees Survive ObamaCare

To try to keep premiums low, some states 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.

Such “specialty drugs” can cost thousands of dollars a month, and in California, patients would pay up to 30 percent of the cost. For one widely used cancer drug, Gleevec, the patient could pay more than $2,000 for a month’s supply, says the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. (Washington Post/AP)

See our previous post here.

Comments (16)

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  1. Laytin says:

    What is the point of health insurance if you end up paying the majority of the healthcare costs anyways?

  2. Arnold says:

    ^ Downside to having a low premium

  3. Dewaine says:

    Where are these people that think ObamaCare is a good idea? Do they actually exist?

  4. JD says:

    I’m sure their already trying to round up more money to plug the leaking on the USS Obamacare.

  5. JD says:

    Or should I say HMS Obamacare.

  6. Spekter says:

    The problem here is not that people have to pay for a larger portion of their medicine. It is a problem because the medicine in and of itself is extremely expensive, which is caused by patent laws allowing pharmaceutical companies to charge an arm and a leg for medicine, instead of allowing competition to fill the medicine market place.

  7. John Craeten says:

    I think you might be on to something here. The entire problem with our healthcare system is that people can’t afford medicine and care, and that would mean that the majority of the problem would be costs of medicine, so if we were to eliminate favoritism in the medical community and increase competition, it would cause prices to go down.

  8. Jake says:


    Are you advocating against Intellectual Property?

  9. Nigel says:

    @Spekter and John:
    I see what you guys are saying, but part of the problem is the price that doctors are charging for check-ups etc. not just the price of medicine…

  10. Spekter says:

    Valid point, but why are they charging so much? They are charging a substantial amount of money for care to be able to afford the medication that is provided by the patent protected pharmaceutical companies, while you are right about doctor care being a problem, that is only a manifestation of hiked medicine prices.

  11. Studebaker says:

    The problem isn’t that drugs are expensive. It’s that drugs are overpriced because patients don’t pay for their own costs. Why do you think drugs costs as much as they do? It’s because when insurers are paying the bill, drug makers have an incentive to charge as much as they can. If patients were the ones having to mortgage their house, they would look at the benefits and decide an extra month of poor quality life is not worth $200,000. Drug makers would have to decide what is the most they can charge and still have customers.

  12. Spekter says:

    Yes absolutely. Intellectual property/Patent laws harms substantially more than it helps.

    You said that it isn’t that drugs are too expensive, and then you said that drug makers have an incentive to charge more = Drugs are too expensive. It is the same argument whether or not you blame the insurance companies or patents.

  13. Jake says:


    Good. Then, we are on the same page.

  14. Andrew says:

    Hmm I’ve read somewhere about the consequences on property/patent laws. However, it’s something I’ll have to revisit.

  15. Erik says:

    While undergoing Chemo for throat cancer, my oncologists suggested three different types of Chemo and informed me of the success rates and side effects for each treatment based on my profile. So I chose the chemo my oncologists suggested was the best treatment. Cost was never mentioned. I would assume my story is no different than anybody else’s. But this is the problem in medicine. There is only a meeting of the minds when discussing treatment not costs.

  16. Bob Hertz says:

    Studebaker, may I politely say “Are you Nuts?”

    You imply that a cancer patient will look at the price of his drug and say, nope, that’s highway robbery, I’ll show them, call the priest for last rites.

    IN the USA we have a bad habit of using patients as the kamikazis of cost control.

    Why is no one auditing the Gleenex manufacturer?

    Bob Hertz, The Health Care Crusade