Survey Results Show That Adults Are Willing to Pay Higher Insurance Premiums for Generous Coverage of Specialty Drugs

Published in: Health Affairs, v. 31, no. 4, Apr. 2012, p. 683-690

by John A. Romley, Yuri Sanchez, John R. Penrod, Dana P. Goldman

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Generous coverage of specialty drugs for cancer and other diseases may be valuable not only for sick patients currently using these drugs, but also for healthy people who recognize the potential need for them in the future. This study estimated how healthy people value insurance coverage of specialty drugs, defined as high-cost drugs that treat cancer and other serious health conditions like multiple sclerosis, by quantifying willingness to pay via a survey. US adults were estimated to be willing to pay an extra $12.94 on average in insurance premiums per month for generous specialty-drug coverage-in effect, $2.58 for every dollar in out-of-pocket costs that they would expect to pay with a less generous insurance plan. Given the value that people assign to generous coverage of specialty drugs, having high cost sharing on these drugs seemingly runs contrary to what people value in their health insurance.

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