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Co-Pays for Cancer Drugs Illogical and Unworkable

'Intellectually dead' idea is a policy zombie that keeps coming back

TUESDAY, July 1 (HealthDay News) -- The concept of user charges for cancer drugs, cited as a potential solution to fiscal pressures on the United Kingdom's health care system, is an "intellectually dead" idea that is both unworkable and illogical, according to a Views & Reviews article published online June 30 in BMJ.

Cam Donaldson, Ph.D., of Newcastle University in Newcastle, the United Kingdom, writes that user charges go under various euphemisms in the medical field, including "co-payments" and "diversifying the revenue stream." Top-ups only serve to complicate a medical system and do not control costs, the author writes, citing the United States as a prime example of how user charges are a blunt instrument to curb spiraling medical costs, harming poorer users the most.

Instead, the author argues that governments should have the courage to control costs at the supply end of the market, rather than trying to manipulate demand for publicly funded health care.

"It is wrong, unfair and ineffective to try and limit consumer and patient access through user fees, and also to dress up this process as actually enhancing access," Donaldson writes. "If we want to limit access to supply led services, let's talk to the health care professionals who manage and provide health care. If we want to raise money in a way that is consistent with what we want to achieve in health care, there is another way -- it's called taxation."

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