Survey Raises Question: Are Insurers Practicing Medicine Without a License?

A survey by the Global Healthy Living Foundation,, a non-profit patient advocacy group, shows that 70 percent of prescription medications are changed by health insurers, denying patients the drugs their doctors prescribe.

According to GHLF Executive Director Louis Tharp, “This disturbing finding is not a simple case of switching a brand-name drug for a generic one, a common and generally accepted practice used for many illnesses, and one GHLF supports. We found that health insurance companies through the U.S. switch one brand-name drug for another simply because the switched drug is cheaper.”

The survey also found instances of patients with chronic conditions who were responding well to a particular drug, but relapse after being switched to a cheaper drug.

GHLF is conducting an additional national survey to measure the incidence of what are known as “fail first practices” where health insurers require a patient to fail on a cheaper drug before being considered for the original drug their physician has prescribed. The Foundation provides a website,, that offers information on how patients can avoid having prescription drugs switched by health insurance companies, and how to effectively complain when it happens.


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