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New federal rule aims to help cover meds for chronic conditions

By Tauren Dyson
New federal rule aims to help cover meds for chronic conditions
A new rule announced Wednesday by the Department of Treasury has loosened up restrictions on what insurance plans can pay to cover drugs and tests for people with certain chronic conditions. Photo by Tesa Photography/Pixabay

July 17 (UPI) -- People withheart disease, osteoporosis and depression may be able to save money treating those conditions if their insurance companies decide to opt-in on a new federal rule.

A new rule announced Wednesday by the Department of Treasury has loosened up restrictions what insurance plans can pay to cover drugs and tests for people with certain chronic conditions.

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This move is a response to an executive order issued by President Donald Trump in June. It allows high deductible health plans to pay for medications and services that treat conditions such as asthma, diabetes and high blood pressure. Traditionally, the costs have been passed on to patients until they have reached their deductibles.

"As more and more Americans are facing high deductibles, they are struggling to pay for their essential medical care," said A. Mark Fendrick, a professor at the University of Michigan School of Public Health and study author, in a news release.

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Prior to the new rule, the federal government prevented high-deductible plans with health savings accounts from paying for medications and services that normally treat chronic conditions until insurance holders paid up to their deductibles.

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According to the researchers, roughly, 43 percent of people who receive employer-provided health insurance benefits still pay at least $1,300 for care before their insurance begins to contribute.

That means they normally pay the whole cost for things like blood sugar testing, inhalers, insulin and anti-depressant medications. This made it more likely people suffering from chronic illnesses would forgo costly preventative tests in favor of paying for long-term treatment.

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Under the new rule, 14 services will be covered pre-deductible, including blood pressure monitors, statins and glucometers.

"Our research has shown that this policy has the potential to lower out-of-pocket costs, reduce federal health care spending, and ultimately improve the health of millions diagnosed with chronic medical conditions. We have actively advocated for this policy change for over a decade," Fendrick said.

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