Americans spent almost 5% more on healthcare in 2015 compared with 2014, and prescription drugs were the fastest growing expense, according to an article published Nov. 22 by HealthDay News. Prescription costs increased 11% from 2014 to 2015, according to the article.
The article stated that “anti-infective drugs, including hepatitis C and HIV medications, more than doubled in price from 2012 to 2015. And chemotherapy and other drugs administered by a healthcare practitioner vaulted 12.5% over the previous year.”
Researcher Amanda Frost said in the article that “spending grew faster than we might have expected in 2015, given the low growth of previous years. The combination of people using more healthcare services and faster growth in prices pushed up spending, with prices playing the biggest role.”
The research report, compiled by Health Care Cost Institute, highlighted the following increases:
• Healthcare spending averaged $5,141 per individual in 2015, up $174 from the year before.
• Out-of-pocket spending rose 3% in 2015, to an average of $813 per capita.
• Spending on prescription drugs grew faster than spending on any other healthcare service.
• Use of outpatient care and professional services rose slightly in 2015.
• Prices for outpatient, inpatient, professional service, and prescription drugs increased between 3.5-9.0% in 2015.
The report comes on the heels of debate and outrage over price gouging. Companies such as Mylan Pharmaceuticals, was under fire for increasing the cost of the EpiPen, and Turing Pharmaceuticals’ increased the cost of the anti-malarial drug Daraprim by 5000%, CBS news reported in its article, “What’s behind the sharp rise in prescription drug prices?” published in August.
In the Medicare.gov article, “6 ways to lower your costs in the drug coverage gap” patients are encouraged to consider switching to generics or other lower-cost drugs; choosing a plan that offers additional coverage during a coverage gap; enrolling in a pharmaceutical assistance program or one offered through the state; or applying for extra help.
“Medicare and Social Security have a program for people with limited income and resources that helps you pay for your prescription drugs,” the article stated. “If you qualify, you could pay no more than $2.95 for each generic or $7.40 for each brand-name covered drug in 2016 ($3.30 for each generic and $8.25 for each brand-name in 2017).”
According to the article, patients can explore charity programs such as the National Patient Advocate Foundation.
In a CNN Money article published Sept. 2016, author Tami Luhby reported on the findings of the 2016 Kaiser/HRET Employer Health Benefits, which looked at how much people are paying for work-based insurance plans. According to the article, “The average family plan cost $18,142 this year, up 3.4% from 2015 …”.
Although Americans paid for an average of only 30%, while employers footed the rest of the bill, more than half of employees now have to pay at least $1,000 in deductibles before their coverage kicks in.
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