Prescription drugs for some state employees in Utah are being sent to Mexico to purchase their prescription drugs because it's so much cheaper that it even justifies the cost of airfare, according to Yahoo News.
One example is Ann Lovell, a teacher in Utah who travels to Tijuana several times per year to get the medication for her rheumatoid arthritis. Even though the state health insurer pays the travel costs for her and others, the total cost is still half as much as it would be if she bought the drugs in the U.S.
Lovell flies from Salt Lake City to San Diego and then is escorted to Tijuana to refill her prescription.
Lovell had been paying $450 in co-pays every few months for her medication, though she said it would have increased to some $2,400 if she had not started traveling to Mexico. Without the program, she would not be able to afford the medicine she needs.
"This is the drug that keeps me functioning, working," said Lovell, who works at an early-intervention program for deaf students that's part of the Utah Schools for the Deaf and Blind. "I think if I wasn't on this drug ... I'd be on disability rather than living my normal life."
The cost difference is so large that the state's insurance program for public employees can pay for each patient's flight, give them a $500-per-trip bonus and still save tens of thousands of dollars.
Utah workers who take one of about a dozen qualifying prescription drugs are eligible to take advantage of this under the state's "right to shop" law. That means about 400 out of 160,000 employees are eligible. Only 10 are currently getting their drugs from Mexico.
The state is looking to expand the program to save more money, however, with flights to Canada so employees can get prescriptions from Vancouver.