A government report released on Monday says that recipients of Medicare spent more money on brand-named prescription medications despite purchasing and taking fewer of these medicines. The report blames higher prices from manufactures for the added financial burden to both seniors and taxpayers.
The inspector generals office of the Health and Human Services Department says that over the last five years there have been 17% fewer prescriptions for brand-named meds under Medicare’s Part D program.
However, in this same time period, the cost to seniors for these medications rose 40% beginning at an average of $161 per filled prescription in 2011 and rising to $225 for an average prescription filled in 2015.
While news of the rising cost of prescription medications often center around new drugs with six-figure price tags, the report shows that the more relevant factor is the constantly rising cost of drugs used to provide maintenance for chronic healthcare conditions like hypertension and diabetes. The biggest culprits were brand-named insulin, cholesterol-lowering medications, and inhalers providing relief for asthma sufferers.
Assistant Inspector General Ann Maxwell says the urgency of the matter centers around the fact that the cost and availability of needed medications on the health and quality of life of Medicare beneficiaries.
The information provided in the report predates the administration of current United States President but provide fuel to the arguments the administration has made on the subject. Alex Azar, Secretary of HHS, has identified the rising cost of medications and the oftentimes unreasonable out of pocket expenses paid by patients is a major main focus of his department and the president’s administration as a whole.
The Trump administration has spoken of a number of steps it would like to see taken to create more competition among companies in the pharmaceutical industry and provide exposure to the conditions in the industry that the administration feels companies are exploiting to artificially inflate prices of medications.
The problem as many sees it is that the process of drug pricing is extremely cryptic for the average American and no one knows how long it will take for relief to come from the proposed measures by the current administration if indeed any relief is gained at all.
The President himself seems to be taking a sooner rather than later approach as he has hinted with recent remarks that the American people can soon expect to hear of a voluntary lowering of drug prices from major drug manufacturers. No details were spoken of by the President.