Not Just a Generic Kickback


A recent Boston TV news story highlighted that some health plans are paying doctors to switch their patients to generic medications, without disclosing the kickbacks to the patient. The Blue Care Network in Michigan paid 2,400 doctors $2 million to switch patients from Lipitor to the generic Zocor. Similar payments were made to Massachusetts physicians.
The story quotes Harvard Business School Regina Herzlinger, who recently lectured for MHPC. “Without saying to the patient, ‘I have a financial incentive in making this decision, which goes along with my professional incentives to do what’s right for you,’ it’s unethical. It’s a clear conflict of interest.”
She’s right.
While mandatory generic substitution is standard practice in Medicaid for more than 30 states, private insurers should not undermine the physician-patient relationship with such kickbacks. Physicians should prescribe what is in the best interest of the patient – medically and financially. That conversation should happen openly in the doctor’s office with the patient, not through some covert contract with a private insurer.