Los Angeles Times (02.19.13)
Anthem Blue Cross, California's largest for-profit health insurer, has withdrawn its request for some of its policyholders to buy their prescription drugs from a specific mail-order pharmacy. In November, the company had notified policyholders of the new requirement, which applied to certain medications used to treat major illnesses. The company stated that this procedure would help keep costs down. However, the requirement was challenged based on California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act, which specifies that all people must be treated equally.
California’s Attorney General Kamala D. Harris commented that any rule forcing some people to buy drugs from one drugstore, but allowing others to shop elsewhere could be a violation of the law. Lynda Gledhill, as spokesperson for the attorney general, stated that an individual cannot be discriminated against because of a medical condition. She said that if patients are being required to get prescriptions from a certain drugstore because of their illness, that is likely illegal.
Anthem is sending letters to its policyholders taking specialty medications to inform them that the company no longer requires them to purchase their medications from the specific online pharmacy beginning March 1. The company stated that because of the feedback from its members, it is evaluating that input and has now eliminated the March deadline for the specialty medications. Anthem is working to better present the benefits of the mail-order pharmacy program and will communicate its details before making any changes to the existing program.