BOSTON — Massachusetts may become the first state to require prescription drug coverage, giving supermarket pharmacy a chance to attract new customers.
Late last month, the state's Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Authority approved minimum coverage requirements for health insurance plans to comply with its landmark universal coverage law.
Subject to a final vote in June, the requirements include drug coverage as a criterion for health plans. In addition, all state residents have until Jan. 1, 2009, to purchase minimum insurance coverage or face tax penalties.
“The law is a positive thing. It can be compared to Medicare Part D,” said John Fegan, senior vice president, pharmacy, Ahold USA, Quincy, Mass.
Residents on a fixed budget may be choosing between prescription drugs and food, but with mandatory coverage they should be able to do both, he said.
“The government and insurance plans are realizing that it is a good investment to encourage patients to take their medication properly and get refills, because it saves on medical costs down the road in the form of hospitalizations and emergency room visits,” said Robert Appel, spokesman for the National Community Pharmacists Association, Alexandria, Va.