Patient education about health and wellness is important and involves much more than common topics discussed between a doctor and their patients. Patient education extends to discussing relevant issues that impact a patient personally, such as the rising cost of health insurance. Patients need to understand the dramatic incline of the cost of prescription and generic drugs, such as those used for hormone replacement therapy in Dallas. Recent studies found that one in four Americans opt out of choosing to fill prescriptions due to the cost. This doesn’t include the number of Americans who avoid seeing their physician because they know they can’t afford the cost of medications. If you fall into these categories, you’re not alone.
Rising Cost of Prescription Medications
The cost of medications was recently featured in the article “What’s Behind the Health Care Crisis?” by Chase Falcon, which was published in the March issue of Life Extension Magazine. The article discussed the fact there was once a time when medical insurance was an automatic benefit for most public and private sector employees. Today, less than 50 percent of companies offer insurance to their employees, and most employees must pay a part or all of their costs to participate in group insurance. The cost of medical care is further exaggerated by the rising cost of premiums, which leaves some plans to be more like subsidies than comprehensive care. This make health care next to impossible for 36 million uninsured or those who can only afford low-coverage plans. While it was hoped Obamacare would resolve some of the burden, several years later, it’s clear it hasn’t solved anything.
According to the article, the situation is further fueled by soaring prices for brand name and generic medications. It’s estimated by 2018, the total spending on prescription medications will be four times greater than the cost of the same drugs in 2013. Despite the Drug Price Competition and Patent Term Restoration Act of 1982, drug prices continue to skyrocket. It’s now considered common place for large pharmaceutical giants to charge unsupportable prices for the patent drugs used, which they justify by claiming the added need for research and development. However, current pricing far exceeds the R and D costs, plus reasonable profit margins. With generic medications becoming more competitive, many companies acquire others with rights to generic production. As a result, they become quasi-monopolies, manipulating the production, causing an artificial scarcity of supply to further drive up prices.
Featured in the article were four examples which showed an increase of generic drugs from 420% to 4,014% from October 2013 to April 2014. The medications that are included in the increase include drugs for respiratory conditions, those needed during surgery to treat irregular heartbeats, seizure medications, and medications to prevent migraines. In addition, many cardiovascular-related medications were also included. While there have been congressional investigations, little has been done, despite Medicare and Medicaid data from July 2013 to July 2014 featured in the Senate report stating that half of all generic medications have increased in price. Naturally, none of the drug manufacturers have agreed to testify.
Combating the Cost of Prescriptions
The cost of health care affects everyone—from the hormone doctor in Dallas to the patient receiving hormone replacement therapy in Dallas. The vast network and politics supporting the system makes it difficult for both the patients and doctors to understand. Drugs and insurance are just two of the segments of the health industry driving higher costs. While there isn’t a cut and dry solution to fix the problem, patients need to stay informed and observant about price fluctuations for medications. Patients are encouraged to write elected representatives in Washington to raise awareness regarding the lack of responsibility and productivity that insurance for medical care isn’t the same across the board. With the unfairness of the system, patient involvement and action may someday cause representatives and large corporations to have to get their insurance from the marketplace, too.