A Survey on Non-medical Switching In Florida

2017-01-19 | CSRO

In a survey released by the Floridians for Reliable Health Coverage on Tuesday, a majority of people with chronic health conditions living in Florida reported to the Global Healthy Living Foundation (GHLF) that they have experienced non-medical switching, which occurs when an insurance company forces a medically stable patient to switch their medications for non-medical reasons.

Using a diverse sample of 62 Florida residents diagnosed with chronic or rare diseases, the survey found that 84% of respondents experienced a general “negative physical impact” after the a switch occurred, with many missing work or requiring hospitalization.

Overall, 50% of respondents reported being financially coerced by their insurance companies to change their clinician-prescribed medication for non-medical reasons. Additionally, 60% reported subsequently being delayed from obtaining their prescribed medication as a direct result.

As evident by the Florida survey and others like it, non-medical switching can be extremely harmful to patients.  For example, patients can experience additional side effects, symptoms, and in some cases even relapse due to being switched from the medication originally prescribed by their physician.  But even further, switching medications for non-medical reasons can lead to increased utilization of health care services, including hospitalization, additional physician visits, additional lab tests, and emergency room visits, thereby actually increasing overall healthcare utilization costs.

Florida House Bill 95 and Senate Bill 182 would limit the practice of non-medical switching by prohibiting insurers from making formulary changes mid-stream during their plan year. As similar legislation emerges from around the country non-medical switching will be an important issue to monitor.  

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