Humana will reduce prices for its HIV/AIDS drugs in Florida, according to a copy of an agreement signed this week by the company and the state Office of Insurance Regulation, making it the third insurer to strike such a deal since November.
During the next year, Humana will limit consumer costs for all HIV drugs to 10 percent. Last year, the insurer made consumers pay between 40 and 50 percent of costs.
“This is a significant step,” said Carl Schmid, deputy executive director of the Tampa-based AIDS Institute, which helped file a federal discrimination complaint against Humana and three other insurers in May.
Schmid called the deal a “recognition of the fact that Humana was making these drugs much too expensive for people with HIV to afford.”
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Humana denied all wrongdoing in the agreement with the state.
“We understand the affordability challenges facing those with HIV/AIDS due to the relatively high cost of their specialty medications,” said Mitch Lubitz, a spokesman for Humana.
The federal complaint, which was filed with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights, accused Humana, Coventry Healthcare, Cigna and Preferred Medical Plan of discriminating against people with HIV by making their medication unaffordable.
Rachel Seeger, a spokeswoman for HHS, confirmed that the federal government was still investigating the complaint.
But Schmid said the Humana deal went further in protecting consumers because the cost reductions applied to all HIV medications. The Cigna and Coventry agreements only included four drugs.
As part of the deals, the insurers also agreed to move HIV drugs out of their highest cost pricing “tier.”
“This does not solve all our problems,” Schmid said. “This is good news for people in Florida but we are looking for the federal government to address this issue around the nation.”
Follow @MHhealth for health news from South Florida and around the nation.
This article was produced in collaboration with Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent program of the Kaiser Family Foundation.