Utah insurer sends patients to Mexico to buy prescription drugs

Feb. 10, 2020

For some patients in Utah, the cost of making a round-trip journey to Mexico for prescription drugs is cheaper than getting them at home.

Americans have long used Mexico and Canada as a source of cheaper prescription drugs. But for the first time, a major insurance company is using another country as a way to lower its health care spend. 

According to a recent report, the insurance company, which covers government workers in Utah, has begun implementing a plan that involves flying a patient to San Diego, paying for them to be escorted by a guide across the border to Tijuana to buy meds, and then returning them to the airport to fly back home on the same day. The patients even get $500 in cash for making the trip.

To be eligible for the Tijuana trip, the employee has to be taking one of 13 named specialized drugs, typically for rare conditions, and able to make their copayment. So far, just 10 patients have taken advantage of the program, but the insurer said it is saving hundreds of thousands of dollars using this method of obtaining the expensive drugs. 

Read the Vox report.