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Drug caps raise deaths, save little cash

Reuters reported on June 1, 2006 on an study published in the June 1, 2006 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine which found that people with capped drug benefits died at 22% higher rates than people with uncapped benefits and in the long run having capped drug benefits does not save HMOs any more money.

People with limited drug coverage skip their medicines, make more trips to the hospital, and die sooner than patients with unlimited benefits, according to a study in The New England Journal of Medicine.

The study compared the medical records of 157,275 people in a plan that only covered the first $1,000 worth of drugs, with 41,904 who had unlimited drug coverage.

Those with limited drug coverage spent 31 percent less on drugs, but their total medical costs were not significantly lower as they had a 9 percent greater chance of going to the emergency room and a 13 percent greater chance of landing in hospital.

"The savings in drug costs from the cap were offset by increases in the costs of hospitalization and emergency department care," concluded the researchers, who were led by John Hsu of Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, California.

The annual death rate of people whose drug benefits were capped was 22 percent higher than those with unlimited benefits.

These are the cockimamie things that happen when health care gets turned into a business and is run for economic benefit of shareholders and CEOs and not for the good of the patients and for the community. People needlessly die because they do not have access to available health care strictly for economic reasons.

Link: MedlinePlus: Drug caps raise deaths, save little cash: US study.

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