Prescription Drug Prices 41 Times Higher Than Seniors Can Afford
Prescription drug prices for serious chronic diseases, such as Diabetes type-2, heart disease, cancer and arthritis is now 41 times higher than a seniors’ social security benefit. This statistic comes a very recent report by AARP investigators.
Prescription Drug: Current Price Status:
How out of whack are current prescription drug prices in relation to a senior citizen’s social security benefit? Just take a look at this.
In 2017, retail prices for 97 of the most important drugs prescribed for serious chronic illness increased by 7 percent. This was more than 3 times the inflation rate. And, hold on to your seat belt, the average annual price for one of these specialty medications was $78,781!
Now, two years later, a concerted push back against these continuously rising prices has started. Led by the Trump Administration, the objective is to bring drug prices down to similar low levels that are found in Europe. If this project fails, then eventually, seniors will be unable to purchase these drugs and still survive. And, consequently, health care costs will increase.
In addition, current prescription drug plans do not cover anywhere close to a good part of drug costs. Consequently, even though most seniors and younger Americans have drug plans — they still must pay higher premiums and deductibles.
How Much Out of Pocket?
Patients generally have either a flat copay as their portion of prescription drug costs or coinsurance. And therefore, just need to pay a percentage of the retail price of the medication. Out-of-pocket costs for specialty drugs, will however, typically require coinsurance thousands of dollars – extra. For example, for these high cost specialty drugs, Medicare Part D coinsurance can get as high as 33 percent.
In the pure nuts and bolts dollar breakdown — here is the reality.
The $78,781 annual average cost for one of these medicines is more than three times the median income for Medicare beneficiaries ($26,200). And, it’s $20,000 more than the median income for all U.S. households ($60,336).
Therefore, when drug prices are higher than what people make in a year, it’s a recipe for disaster.
The single highest retail price increase in 2017 for a specialty drug was for Revatio, which treats pulmonary hypertension. The second highest retail price increase was for the cancer treatment Revlimid. That drug increased by an average of 21.4 percent in 2017. The annual cost of Revlimid went from almost $204,000 in 2016 to nearly $248,000 in 2017.
In the intervening two years, cost have spiraled even higher. But, seniors and others in need of these life saving drugs, hope that the current push will yield positive results.