First: I apologize for cross-posting (I just posted this on GWJ), but it's a big topic for me as you'll see, and I just want to make people aware of this, even though it won't affect most who'll read it.http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/14/us/14drug.html
No one knows how many patients are affected, but hundreds of drugs are priced this new way. They are used to treat diseases that may be fairly common, including multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, hemophilia, hepatitis C and some cancers. There are no cheaper equivalents for these drugs, so patients are forced to pay the price or do without.
Let me put a personal face to the article. I'm one of those people. Since starting on Humira a few years ago, I've been able to live without my old regimen of taking high doses of pain medication every day at the cost of my stomach's health and elevated risk of cardiac failure. Pain meds also do nothing to halt the progressive nature of my disease, instead purely treating the pain symptoms and ignoring the ongoing damage to my body. Humira stops my body's immune system from attacking my body by inhibiting the production of a specific range of proteins (antibodies).
It's not an exaggeration to say that, for me, Humira is essentially a miracle drug.
My medication would cost me ~$1600 per month without health insurance. It's caused me to stay at my job just to keep my health coverage rather than take a more flexible job (without insurance) that would allow me to more effectively pursue my studies.
Right now 10% (according to the article) of health insurance providers have migrated to the Tier 4 pricing plan. Eventually they'll all spread to that, as it's more profitable for them. When that happens, all I can do is thank God that I don't have a terminal illness -- just one that will eventually all but cripple me and leave me dependent upon public assistance when I can no longer work.
Hell, just toss me in the fucking Soylent Green vat now and be done with pretenses.
All you currently healthy people who don't see a problem here, good luck. I hope you have the fortune to stay that way until our "health care" system is overhauled so that you're not punished even further for having the misfortune of being sick.
I mean that. I wouldn't wish my forseeable future on anyone else, and I'm not even as bad off as those with potentially terminal illnesses.