High drug costs are burdening seniors with excessive out-of-pocket expenses and straining the Medicare program’s finances.
A recent study of 79 brand drugs without generic competition found that the U.S. pays 3 to 4 times more for these drugs than other countries do.
Medicare beneficiaries’ average out-of-pocket costs for certain brand name drugs rose by 40 percent between 2011 and 2015.
For a consumer who takes 5 brand name prescription drugs on a chronic basis, the annual cost of treatment would have been more than $26,000 in 2015, more than three times the cost seen 10 years ago. This cost exceeds the median income of $24,150 for Medicare beneficiaries. Nearly half of all beneficiaries take at least 5 medications.
As a registered voter, I expect all Members of Congress to work together to immediately enact policies that will rein in drug costs in the Medicare program.
Three policy approaches to lowering drug costs that Congress can act on are:
- Allow the government to negotiate directly with manufacturers in the Medicare Part D program
- Place inflationary spending caps on drugs
- Enact reforms that would allow generic drug competitors to come to market sooner and drive down drug costs.