By Marielle Mohs

MINNETONKA, Minn. (WCCO) — A group of protesters converged Tuesday on the corporate offices of UnitedHealthcare to demonstrate against what they call “unethically high” prescription drug prices.

The protesters were from the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, and they say that people with HIV/AIDS are facing expensive drug prices that are impeding them from seeking care. The demonstrators say that OptumRx, the prescription service under UnitedHealthcare, is throwing unethical charges on specialty independent pharmacies where people with HIV or specific pre-existing conditions seek care.

“We do worry that people will fall out of care, because we know that when people hit barriers, they make decisions not to take care of themselves,” said Tracy Jones, with the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “We make it too hard. We should be making it easier for people to get into care. But when you’re getting bills that you don’t understand, or you’re being charged for things you think your insurance should cover…people fall out of care.”

UnitedHealthcare issued a statement in response to the protest.

“Each year, we help thousands of people living with HIV and AIDS get medications they need at affordable prices through our network of more than 67,000 retail pharmacies,” the statement said. “Our reimbursements to pharmacies are consistent with fair, competitive market rates. While this protest seems to be timed to coincide with a negotiating session this week, we will, consistent with our decades-long commitment to the HIV and AIDS community, continue to work with partners across the health system – including AHF – to provide people with safe, convenient and lower-cost medications.”

Marielle Mohs