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Survey Reveals New Findings About Drug Affordability

January 19, 2022 by Alexa Hornbeck
Survey Reveals New Findings About Drug Affordability

survey was released yesterday by the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation that uses National Health Interview Survey data to estimate that 3.5 million adults 65 and older had trouble paying for medications in 2019.

According to the survey, more than 5 million Medicare beneficiaries struggled to afford prescription medications and adults who were 65 and older, women, people with lower incomes, and Black and Latino beneficiaries were more likely to experience affordability problems than other populations.

For Medicare beneficiaries under the age of 65, the report found that 1.8 million had difficulty affording medications in 2019, especially those who qualified for Medicare on the basis of disability or end-stage renal disease.

The research finds that drug prices in the U.S. are currently twice as high as prices in other comparable countries, even after rebates, and that these high prices are harmful to patients, especially those with chronic conditions who often delay or skip taking needed treatments. 

“The Biden-Harris administration is also pursuing regulatory changes to improve prescription drug affordability for Medicare enrollees, which do not require congressional approval. For example, applying Part D pharmacy price concessions at the point of sale, as in the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking issued Jan. 6, 2022, is projected to reduce beneficiary costs by more than $2 billion per year. Medicare beneficiaries who are prescribed more costly drugs or require multiple drugs to treat chronic conditions would be particularly likely to benefit from this proposal,” write the researchers of the survey.

There are several potential policies, such as changes to Medicare Part D drug benefit proposals to lower the price of prescription drugs, that researchers believe would improve some of the equitable access issues to medications that were raised in the findings.

Alexa can be reached at alexa@thewellnews.com

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