Skimping Can’t Save Seniors from Rising Medication Costs

A new report released this week reports that Medicare recipients are filling fewer prescriptions for brand-name drugs, but spending more regardless.  The Health and Human Services inspector general’s office reports a 17% drop in prescriptions for brand-name medications under Medicare Part D over the past five years, while beneficiaries’ out of pocket costs increased by 40%.

“Increases in unit prices for brand-name drugs resulted in Medicare and its beneficiaries paying more for these drugs,” said the report. Rising Medicare payments for brand-name drugs “will continue to affect Part D and its beneficiaries for years to come.”

The report also found that drugmakers raised prices more rapidly for the most commonly used brand-name meds; more Medicare enrollees are spending $2,000 per year or more of their own money on meds; total program spending for brand-name drugs increased by 77%; and manufacturer rebates didn’t make a big dent in costs.

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