UnitedHealth To Reimburse Some Seniors for Rx Drugs Purchased Abroad
UnitedHealth Group, the largest health insurer in the United States, sent a letter to 97,000 individuals who purchased health plans with a prescription drug benefit through AARP stating that it will reimburse them for prescriptions filled in Canada and other foreign countries, the AP/Miami Herald reports. UnitedHealth officials said that the letter does not represent a change in policy but was issued to "clarify a misunderstanding" about reimbursement for prescription drugs purchased abroad. The company added that it "was not trying to encourage anyone to violate" U.S. law, which prohibits the reimportation of prescription drugs that are available in the United States. "If someone is driving at a high rate of speed and they get in an accident we cover them, but it's not like we advocate such behavior," UnitedHealth spokesperson Mark Lindsay said. AARP officials called the letter "informational" and also added that the organization is not encouraging members to purchase drugs in other countries. An FDA official said that the agency could not comment on the letter because it "doesn't know the details" of the policy, but he added that the FDA disapproves of prescription drug reimportation because it cannot verify the safety or efficacy of medicines purchased in other countries. Experts said that it is unlikely that pharmaceutical makers or government officials will challenge UnitedHealth or AARP over the reimbursements (Agovino, AP/Miami Herald, 10/12).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.