AUSTIN — Health insurers are under pressure from Texas legislators to halt a practice that allows them to change the terms of coverage for prescription drugs with a pair of bills in the House and Senate that would extend earlier protections.
Patient advocacy groups and doctor and nurse associations long have been opposed to the practice known as “non-medical switching,” which allows insurers to drop medications from their plans, raise co-pays, or add other restrictions and requirements, typically for financial, as opposed to medical, reasons.
House Bill 2882, introduced by State Rep. Tom Oliverson, R-Cypress, and its companion, Senate Bill 1967, sponsored by Sen. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe, no longer would allow insurers to modify prescription benefits upon plan renewal for drugs that a patient was prescribed in a preceding plan year. In 2011, Texas adopted legislation that prohibits insurers from engaging in non-medical switching during a plan year.
Insurance providers regularly review and change their policies regarding specific medications, but opponents of non-medical switching say it can harm patient health and increase medical costs, as in cases where patients end up needing emergency care to treat chronic illnesses.