Over the past few years, the nation’s largest health insurers and pharmacy benefits managers (PBMs) have consolidated and now just a few entities dominate the health care marketplace. Each of these companies own and operate their own specialty pharmacy and some are beginning to require their members to obtain physician-administered drugs solely through their exclusive pharmacy, instead of through the patient’s physician’s office.
Under a “white bagging” arrangement, a patient’s health plan requires the drug to be purchased through the plan’s exclusive specialty pharmacy of choice and then shipped to the patient’s physician’s office for administration to that specific patient. This complex requirement interrupts the normal course of treatment and interferes with the physician’s ability to provide the best possible care and service to the patient.
White bagging makes it more expensive for physician practices to provide care by requiring extra storage and labor and increasing liability. At the same time, it decreases payment from the health plan to the physician for the same amount of care.
The US Oncology Network supports legislation to protect patient choice and safety in cancer care by prohibiting health plans from requiring patients to use the plan’s exclusive specialty pharmacy.