Study: Details on drug coverage missing from Obamacare websites

Nearly half of plans available through Obamacare’s state and federal insurance exchanges didn’t list what drugs patients had access to or made that information difficult to find on their websites, according to a new survey.

The study, conducted by Avalere Health, analyzed consumer experience on Healthcare.gov in five states and another 12 state-run insurance exchanges. In 38 percent of cases, plans did not include a drug formulary, a list of covered medications. In another 11 percent of cases, the list of covered drugs was “difficult” or “very difficult” for consumers to find.

The study is likely to spur criticism that the exchanges failed to provide consumers signing up for or changing coverage with enough information.

Avalere said the missing formularies presented “significant obstacles” and highlighted the lack of transparency for people seeking insurance through ObamaCare.

Plans that had drug formularies but were difficult to access often required consumers to exit HealthCare.gov or the state exchange site and visit the insurance provider’s own site, adding an additional hurdle to the process.

“Providing understandable and accessible information about the providers and drugs included in exchange plans is essential to helping enrollees make informed purchasing decisions that balance premium against scope of coverage,” wrote Caroline Pearson, vice president at Avalere Heath.

She expressed hope the report would lead to changes to help consumers during future enrollment periods.

The study did find that provider network directories, which provided lists of medical facilities, doctors and health care professionals, were easier for consumers to access. Those lists were either “moderately” accessible or “very” accessible in 76 percent of cases. However, 16 percent of plans did not include those lists.