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‘Insurers cannot dictate clients’ choice of pharmacy’

By Ana V. Ibáñez Prieto - Dec 18,2018 - Last updated at Dec 17,2018

AMMAN — The Jordan Pharmacists Association (JPhA) on Monday issued a notice, saying that no entity can mandate that individuals insured through their employers or health insurance funds in the private sector get their medicine from a specific pharmacy. 

The move came after the union found that some patients’ employers or insurance companies continue to refer them to certain branches or establishments, JPhA President Zeid Kilani told The Jordan Times.

In the notice, JPhA Vice President Mohammed Abu Assab said that the union had previously established that all medicine for both chronic and general illnesses could be dispensed by any accredited pharmacy, and not only by a certain set of establishments determined by the insurance companies or employers. 

The pharmacist also stressed that all medicine must be dispensed exclusively at pharmacies, and that home deliveries are not allowed by the union in order to ensure the safety of the dispensed medicine. 

Earlier this year, the union announced its decision to boycott insurance companies, protesting the firms’ “lack of commitment to the contractual principles approved by the union after the agreed to deadline for their implementation”.

“Several insurance companies have threatened pharmacies with removing them from the insurance plan in the event they reject higher contractual fees, while others have stopped directing chronic patients to a certain set of pharmacies for financial reasons,” Kilani told The Jordan Times during an interview in late October, warning that “this is a malpractice leading to monopoly”. 

On October 31, the union announced it would halt its boycott of insurance companies after reaching an agreement for the Ministry of Industry and Trade to oversee the firms’ compliance with the contractual principles approved by the union. 

But, even though insurance companies corrected their behaviour after the announcement, malpractice continues on the ground due to misinformation, according to Kilani. 

“This practice [referring patients to a specific set of pharmacies for benefits] has been ongoing for so long and it is not easy to eradicate it — so we decided to initiate an awareness campaign directed at patients themselves,” Kilani said.

The JPhA president added that neither patients nor employers are actually sure of the actual conditions. So, they still rely on what insurance companies told them before the agreement between with the union was reached.

“This is about letting citizens know their rights,” the pharmacist continued. “Medicine must not be treated as a commodity, and it is the right of the patient to choose where he or she wants to get treatment and how — especially when it comes to primary care and medication for chronic diseases.”

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