In the last month, we’ve fielded a number of calls to the Consumer Helpline (1.888.873.4585) about the high cost of prescriptions. A quick Google search demonstrates why. Prescription drug prices are out of control.
An April 3rd USA Today article reported that the Patient Advocate Foundation found that over 30% of people they serve “cited drug co-payments as their top medical-debt problem.”
On March 5, AARP released a report on the rising cost of prescription drugs. The study found that the manufacturers’ price of brand-name drugs has increased at more than 2 ½ times the inflation rate between 2002 and 2007. Ninety-eight percent (98%) of the drugs studied had manufacturer price increases and 99% of those increases exceeded the inflation rate. AARP concludes that these price increases “result in higher out-of-pocket costs for those [Medicare Part D] beneficiaries who pay a percent of drug costs rather than a fixed co-payment.” Of course, they also result in higher out-of-pocket costs to consumers with no insurance or with any insurance that requires them to pay a percent of drug costs.
According to a March 5th Los Angeles Times article, “US drug prices are as much as 50% higher than in Canada, Western Europe and Japan, where limits are placed on how much drug companies can charge patients.”
The Patient Advocate Foundation has a Co-Pay Relief Program to provide “direct financial support to insured patients, including Medicare Part D beneficiaries, who must financially and medically qualify to access pharmaceutical co-payment assistance.”
But we need a systemic solution, and one that addresses the price, not simply the cost to individuals. I’d hate to see drug companies gouge other public health insurance programs like they have Medicare Part D.