A new AARP Public Policy Institute report reveals that drug prices have been increasing significantly over the last 10 years, way higher than overall inflation. Indeed, double-digit retail price increases have been the norm, contributing to higher health insurance premiums, deductibles and copays. Today, older people’s annual drug costs average $26,000, most of which is covered by insurance. Will Trump honor his campaign pledge to rein in drug prices? In the meantime, how can you keep your out-of-pocket drug costs down?
In 2015, the average increase in the price of 268 brand-name prescription drugs heavily used by people with Medicare was 15.5 percent as compared with the rate of inflation, which was 0.1 percent. What does this mean from a cost perspective?
Older adults take 4.5 prescription drugs on average for their chronic conditions. In 2015, the average annual cost of one brand-name drug to treat a chronic condition was $5,800. This means that average annual drug costs for the typical older adult total $26,000–$1,850 more than the median yearly income for older people with Medicare. And, in 2014, 576,000 Americans had annual drug bills over $50,000.
A majority of people with Medicare have prescription drug coverage that pays for most of the cost of the drugs they need. But, out-of-pocket costs in the form of premiums, deductibles and copays can still be high.
To keep your costs down:
- Talk to your doctor about the drugs you are taking. You may not need to be on all of them. Or, there may be generic or lower-cost substitutes.
- Find out if you qualify for Medicare’s Extra Help program that pays for some or all of your drug costs.
- And, in many states, you may be able to spend down to Medicaid, depending upon your health care costs, your income and assets. Click here to find out if you qualify for Medicaid. Many states allow you to apply on online. Click here to apply.
House Speaker Ryan and the Republican leadership are looking to take the money the federal government currently spends on Medicare and use it to pay for tax cuts for the wealthy over the next ten years. If they succeed, people with Medicare will be forced to spend a lot more out of pocket for their drugs or go without them. If you believe the government should keep its hands off Medicare, please sign this petition.
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