Tags: Healthcare Reform | Obamacare | Florida | HIV

Report: HIV Floridians Face Costly Drugs with Obamacare

Monday, 27 Oct 2014 12:28 PM

Thousands of Florida residents who are infected with HIV may face higher drug costs due to Obamacare, The Miami Herald reports.

Some residents have been told by the AIDS Insurance Continuation Program (AICP) that they are being moved from their current plans with the group onto Florida's Obamacare exchange.

“The landscape of healthcare has changed, and with the passage of the Affordable Care Act we have the opportunity to access and enroll in cost-effective health plans,” an official at the AICP wrote in a letter to its clients, including Tony Smith of Coral Springs.

Saying that AICP “saved my life,” Smith, 42, explained that under his current plan the program picks up $750 of his monthly $803 premium, as well as the monthly co-pay of $110 for medications.

However, with the Humana silver plan under Obamacare for example, Smith would have to pay a $1,500 prescription deductible and half of his total drug costs. His antiretroviral drugs alone would mean he’d have to shell out nearly $1,000 a month until he reached a $6,300 out-of-pocket limit, the Herald said.

“That's just such a crazy jump from what I'm paying now," Smith said. "I'm drowning in paperwork trying to figure out what sort of plan I’ll need. And I’m really worried that I’m just going to be stuck if enrollment opens and there aren’t any I can afford.”

Florida has the third-highest HIV infection rate in the country with 95,000 patients, and some of them could also face similar economic hardship to Smith due to Obamacare, the newspaper states.

Contrary to AICP’s letter to beneficiaries that they can enroll members in ”cost-effective health plans,” the Herald says it is not certain that Obamacare insurance plans will be cheaper, or even affordable, for people with HIV and AIDS, according to patient advocates.

In fact, two nonprofit groups have filed a federal civil rights complaint alleging that some Florida insurers were discriminating against people with HIV by charging “inordinately high” rates for HIV drugs on Obamacare plans, the Times says.

The Affordable Care Act bars insurers from discriminating against consumers because of pre-existing medical conditions.

In their lawsuit, the AIDS Institute and the National Health Law Program singled out CoventryOne, Cigna, Humana and Preferred Medical for discouraging people with HIV “from enrolling in those health plans — a practice which discriminates on the basis of disability,” according to the Herald.

Carl Schmid, deputy executive director of the Tampa-based AIDS Institute, one of the groups that filed the suit, said that many people in Florida diagnosed with HIV are receiving coverage for the first time under Obamacare. But he noted that costly HIV drugs could act as a form of discrimination.

But CoventryOne spokesman Walt Cherniak said its plans provided HIV care “that follows the latest Department of Health and Human Services guidelines and evidence-based practices.”

Humana, Preferred Medical and Cigna also issued statements to the Herald denying any discrimination.

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Thousands of Florida residents who are infected with HIV may face higher drug costs due to Obamacare, The Miami Herald reports.
Obamacare, Florida, HIV
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2014-28-27
Monday, 27 Oct 2014 12:28 PM
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