PROVIDENCE, RI (WPRI) – Americans pay three to four times more for branded drugs than people in other countries, according to AARP, but there is help for people who are struggling to pay for their prescriptions.
Earlier this week, the AARP published a new report focused on the prices of branded prescription drugs that were widely used by older Americans between 2006 and 2020.
“We found that their prices rose by an average of twice the rate of inflation in 2020,” said Leigh Purvis, director of health care costs and access at the AARP’s Public Policy Institute.
Purvis said that while the increase was slower than in previous years, the company was seeing an alarming trend: affordability.
“We’re unfortunately getting to a point where more and more people cannot afford the prescription drugs they need or are forced to choose between their prescription drugs and other items,” she added. “Right now we have a few beneficiaries who are spending up to $ 10,000 a year on their prescription drugs.”
If you find yourself in such a situation, the first thing Purvis suggested was talking to your doctor.
“There are often cheaper alternatives that will cut your costs significantly,” said Purvis.
According to Purvis, there are also programs for Medicare beneficiaries, including Extra help which, as she says, “can significantly reduce your premiums and expenses”.
She also said the state of Rhode Island has programs that “can help Medicare beneficiaries in a very personal way to review their options and try to reduce their costs.”
Learn more: Healthcare for the Elderly
Additionally, you can contact the drug companies themselves for help.
“Many of them have programs that offer their products at greatly discounted prices or for free if you meet their eligibility criteria,” Purvis said.
The AARP report also found that drug price increases can affect taxpayer-funded programs.
“Your taxes go into programs that pay for prescription drugs,” Purvis said. “The reality is that absolutely everyone is affected by the high prices for prescription drugs, regardless of whether they take one themselves.”
Purvis said there is nothing currently in the U.S. healthcare system preventing drug companies from fixing high prices or increasing costs at all times. However, she said there are solutions that the AARP supports.
“Allowing Medicare to negotiate on behalf of its beneficiaries is something it cannot do right now,” Purvis said. “Another really important solution is out-of-pocket cap sealing for Medicare Part D, which is used to pay for prescription drugs you drop off at the pharmacy.”