Plan to Reduce NYC Worker Health Care Costs Eliminates Co-Pays

By Kristen Meriwether, Epoch Times
July 31, 2013 6:21 am Last Updated: July 31, 2013 12:49 am

NEW YORK— If elected mayor, Christine Quinn would like to do away with prescription drug co-pays for chronic diseases for municipal workers, in a pilot program she hopes will expand if successful.

Quinn’s proposal will be modeled after a plan used by the New York Hotel Trades Council (HTC) Employee Benefit Fund. HTC members paid no co-pays on asthma medication over a two-year period and saw a 41.6 percent decrease in claims.

The proposal will cost the insurance companies more up front by eating the prescription drug premium, however, Quinn said the data showed long-term savings on emergency room visits, doctor visits, and medical tests.

“Paying less for the prescription will make is easier for the patient, but also in the long run it will save the insurance company money,” Quinn said in the pharmacy of Harlem Health Clinic June 30. “It is a healthcare win and a financial win as well.”

The move has worked well for HTC, however, an insurance company must agree to the plan before the pilot—which Quinn said would last 12-18 months—would start. Quinn admitted it would be a “leap of faith,” but based on data from an American Journal of Managed Care and the experience HTC had, she is confident it would work.

Quinn mentioned she had already spoken with several insurance companies and they seemed on board with her plan, however, she did not mention them by name.

Heath care costs for union workers is expected to increase by 32 percent, from $6.3 billion this year to $8.3 billion by 2018. In April, Deputy Mayor Cas Holloway offered to resolve all union contracts on the condition of requiring a reasonable co-premium. Currently union workers pay no monthly premium for their health care.

The unions balked.

While this program would neither increase or decrease premiums, if it works, it could be a creative way to reduce the ballooning health care costs for the city and avoid a nasty negotiation with the unions.

It will all depend on the insurance companies.