Drug prices are just too damn high. That may be the one thing on which Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton actually agree, and indeed, most people running for president seem to generally have some idea of the problem and at least an inkling of a plan to fix it. But as the true severity of the problem becomes apparent, are those plans really enough?
Medicare’s drug problem has ballooned into a truly national concern. Medicare’s Part D benefit, which provides prescription drugs for seniors, saw an alarming 13 percent increase in spending in 2014 as new specialty drugs hit the market. Reports predict a 6.5 percent annual growth in drug spending from here on, a rate that could rise depending on the growth of precision and specialty drugs.
Some of those increases are passed off to seniors directly, and as I have noted before, make things more and more difficult for those who live the longest or have the most costly health issues. Through Part D prescription plans, seniors are given one of two options for drug cost-sharing, depending on the drug. One is copayment, in which they pay a flat out-of-pocket rate for each filled prescription. The other is coinsurance, in which seniors pay a percentage of the cost of their drugs. Obviously, for more expensive drugs, coinsurance could be much more expensive than a $20 copayment. New data shows that Part D plans require coinsurance for most covered drugs, a number that is rising. That fact, combined with the rising costs of drugs in general, could be a long-term recipe for financial disaster.