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    The research didn t cover other scenarios, likewhen a drug has a co-pay savings card but generic competition isn t out there yet. That s the gray area the EpiPen falls slightly in: there are other options that are cheaper, but there s no direct generic version out yet.

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Mylan CEO Heather Bresch holds a graphic as she testifies on Capitol. Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2016, before the House. Oversight Committee hearing on EpiPen price increases. AP When Mylan wasfacing a fury over the price of its EpiPen this summer, it touteda new savings card increasing the assistance if offered some consumers to 300 per two-pack.

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If the branded drug has a co-pay assistance program, it might cover 40 of that co-pay, so all you have to pay is 10 to the pharmacy. This does have its benefits: if you only have to pay 10, you re likely going to comply and take the medication, instead of leaving it at the pharmacy counter.

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Either because you haven t hit your deductible (the amount of money you re on the hook for paying before your insurance starts picking up most of the tab or because there s a high co-pay assigned to the drug, you re stuck paying 50 for a month s supply.

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By the researcher s estimates, coupons actually led to increased spending on those 23 drugsanywhere from 700 million to 2.7 billion in the first five years that generic competition wasout there. Here s howthat happens: Say you have a prescription you need to pay for and you have commercial insurance.

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But the insurerstill has to pay what it would if the drug had cost the patient 50. So if the reason you had a 50 co-paywas thatyour insurer is trying to encourage you to choose the generic version, basically that didn t workand the insurer is left paying for the more expensive yet identical drug.

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That s what the researchers are going to work onnext. SEE ALSO : People who refuse vaccines cost the US billions of dollars a year SEE ALSO : A new kind of drug is working better than chemotherapy in some lung cancer patients).

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Savings cards and coupons like Mylan s are presented by drugmakers asa solution to high drug prices, but their critics say they re actually contributing to therise in healthcare costs in America. They benefit a small number of people who need them, whileother, bigger parts of the system notably insurance companies (and their customers) wind up bearing the brunt ofthe price hikes that they re meant to offset.