Medicine in America is expensive. That’s a simple, but blunt truth about our healthcare system. Regardless of insurance or personal health, medicine in America is expensive.
Based on a study conducted by the nonpartisan research organization RAND, Americans on average pay 2.5 times more for their prescription drugs than over 30 other OECD (Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development) nations.
Even after factoring in discounts and economic factors that lower initial drug costs, the analysis continued to find that US prices were significantly higher than other parts of the world.
Seniors are hit the hardest, as the cost of prescription drugs and Medicare are disproportionate to the Social Security Cola increases. The Motley Fool reports that 31% seniors today pay over $1000 a month on their healthcare alone. With many seniors relying solely on Social Security as their income, many are left between a rock and a hard place.
Part of the problem is that Medicare can’t directly negotiate its drug own drug prices. Medicare’s “non-interference policy” makes it so that the drug companies only negotiate prices with insurers under the Medicare umbrella.
Insurance providers are often offered rebates and discounts on drug prices and make up the difference from the premiums their policy holders pay each month. Many would argue it’s a conflict of interest as raising prices for existing drugs, often with no or little competition on the market, benefits both the drug manufacturers and the insurance providers. Insurance providers can raise their policy premiums to match the rate of drug prices.
The Potential Solution
Talks are underway about Medicare expansion and how to negotiate prescription drug prices in the future. Congress is debating itself, and lawmakers are trying to find common ground on how to offer social expansion. Part of the multiple deals on the table is a call to repeal Medicare’s non-interference policy, which would allow Medicare to negotiate its own drug prices. This could help lower the costs of drugs, or at the very least keep the price from rising at such an accelerated rate.
Seniors are a powerful demographic in the United States. Social Security and Medicare should be priorities to Congress because they are priorities to their voters.
The Council for Retirement Security is seeking to protect the Social Security and Medicare trusts so that seniors won’t have to worry about affording basic medicine.
The Social Security Lock-Box Petition is looking to support passing the Social Security and Medicare Lock-Box Act, ensuring the Social Security and the Medicare trust are protected against government spending and any surplus found remains in the trusts. That way, senior’s hard-earned benefits can be well funded so that seniors can afford the medicine they need when they need it.