Serving Franklin County, WA

Patients should have a right to know

Do patients have a right to know if an insurance plan is going to force them to use a mail-order pharmacy or the insurance-owned mail order system during open enrollment? Do patients have a right to chose who they receive medical and pharmaceutical care from?

As a pharmacist at a local independent pharmacy, I have been fielding questions from patients using Kaiser Permanente insurance, who began receiving letters indicating they must transfer their prescriptions to a Kaiser pharmacy for continued coverage.

Starting in January, the Kaiser benefits offered by the Public Employees Benefits Board (PEBB) and School Employees Benefits Board have a provision that requires “maintenance medications” to be filled by a Kaiser pharmacy. This new policy was not disclosed to members during open enrollment.

Instead, Kaiser began notifying patients once they filled a medication at their local pharmacy in 2023. Patients are outraged by this covert operation and wonder how they can trust their health with a company that doesn’t have the decency to be transparent with new policies.

Our pharmacy is over 50 miles from a Kaiser pharmacy. Wouldn’t it be reasonable for Kaiser to allow rural patients to use their local pharmacy?

The best patient care isn’t provided by undisclosed regulations and coercive behavior. The best practice in healthcare is patient centered.

On behalf of my patients, I challenge Kaiser to reconsider this restriction and allow patients to have an active role in their healthcare and choose their pharmacy provider.

Katie Johnson

Spokane

 

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