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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Use your prescription to help the uninsured through a 340B Drug Pricing Program

Okay, I'm not 100% sure that I understand this, but I think I just heard about a very clever way for people to donate towards the healthcare needs of the uninsured. The US Department of Health and Human Service's 340B Drug Pricing Program mandates drug companies to sell prescription drugs virtually at cost to qualified health organizations serving the poor. Those organizations are then allowed by law to turn around and bill the patients insurance company for the market value of the drug, thus netting a profit on the transaction which can then be applied to prescriptions or other health services for the uninsured.

How you can force your insurance company to donate $200 to the health needs of the uninsured:

Lipitor is the highest selling drug in the world. It is also under patent for at least another two years. Under the 340B plan, a $300 Lipitor prescription is sold to a health clinic for $100 and billed to the patient's insurance for $300. If Robert Jarvik, the artificial heart genius and Lipitor tv ad posterboy, were a registered patient at a local health clinic, his basic health needs would be taken care of at the clinic and his prescriptions would be filled at their pharmacy. If the tv ads are accurate, he would probably jog to the clinic with his son. Each time they jog to the clinic to refill on Lipitor, his insurance company kicks in $200 to the health needs of uninsured patients at that very same clinic.

So here's the deal. If you have prescription meds, are on a good insurance plan, want to provide healthcare for the poor, and don't mind changing doctors, then here is what you do. The graphic below is from a report of the Department of Health and Human Services and outlines what kind of agencies qualify for the 340B pricing program. Look at this list, call your area clinics to see if they participate, and enroll as a patient through them. Every time you fill your prescriptions at their pharmacy you are providing healthcare for the uninsured. Simple as that. It costs you nothing.

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