Archive for the ‘Health Care’ Category

Prescription Drugs Prices Are Up, Personal Importation Can Help

Posted by on June 9th, 2017

The prices of prescription drugs are up again. The numbers from 2016 show the price of brand name drugs increased by nearly 13% while specialty drugs increased by close to 8%. The aggregate rise is 8.77%. The consumer price index, used to measure inflation, rose only 2.1% overall in the same time period. PBMs and pharmaceutical makers are quick to point out that no one is actually paying full price for drugs due to negotiations and rebates. While that might true for a lot of people, many people pay high co-pays and premiums and those whose medications are not covered by insurance face high out of pocket expenses.

This is where the personal importation of prescription drugs comes in. But many opponents of personal importation say that its impact would be so minor that it wouldn’t help lower prices. That might be true, but then again, it’s not the point. The point of personal importation is to allow people who are having trouble affording their prescription drugs get the drugs they need, from a safe place, at a price they can afford. It is not, and never was intended, to have the secondary effect of forcing down prices in the US. There is not enough volume or demand to make that goal viable. However for those who need it, it is a life line. Opponents of importation ignore the trees for the forest. The number of people who make use of personal importation is smaller than those who don’t. Generally they’re more elderly and in lower income brackets. They’re the type of people that rich Washington lobby groups feel they can ignore with impunity.

The goal of opening personal importation to all Americans is not the following:

  • Providing competition to force down drug prices in the US.
  • Replacing local US pharmacies.
  • Allowing unsafe drugs in the US.

Its sole goal is to permit Americans who cannot afford their prescription drugs locally to get them from other tier 1 countries where they are just as safe but less expensive. Personal importation is not the end solution to high drug prices; it is one solution amongst many that can be employed. It’s obvious most Americans would prefer drug manufacturers to simply lower the prices to an affordable level. However that’s unlikely to happen as we’ve seen. Drug companies cannot resist the impulse to pad their profit margins by raising prices. Until that ends Americans will continue to need the services of international pharmacies to help them get the medications they need.

Less Generous Insurance Leads to Higher Costs

Posted by on September 6th, 2016

Health insurance form with dollars and stethoscopeOne of the bigger trends in American healthcare is the rising rate of cost-sharing. The Affordable Care Act has required everyone to get health insurance and required health insurers to provide health insurance regardless of a person’s potential risk factors. The result has been that health insurers have seen higher overall costs. Insurance companies look for ways to offset these costs and one of the ways they do this is to offload a greater portion of healthcare spending onto consumers. Interestingly, and perhaps predictability, less money is being spent on more patient friendly co-pays, while more is being spent on higher deductibles and co-insurance.

The change in healthcare spending over the previous decade is stark. Between 2004 and 2014 spending on deductibles increased by 256% and spending on co-insurance rose by 107%, conversely spending on co-payments declined by 26%; health insurance has become less generous. This trend has been encouraged by the big changes the U.S. healthcare system has experienced since the introduction of the Affordable Care Act. Insurance companies are, by nature, risk averse. So the requirement to insure everyone without regard to risk has made pricey cost sharing plans more attractive to them to offset increased costs. As an overall figure, cost sharing increased by 77% between 2004 and 2014.

Consumers with employer provided health insurance are not immune to these hikes either. On average they saw their deductibles increase from an average of $303 to $1,077 from 2006 to 2015. For people who are in good health and don’t anticipate making use of the health care system, having a less generous health insurance plan can be financially tempting. Cheaper plans generally come with higher deductibles but have lower up-front costs. However some people enroll in high deductible plans because they cannot afford the higher upfront costs of more generous plans. In this way, lower income people who may be regular users of the healthcare system will end up being forced to pay more of their healthcare expenses out of pocket.

Managing healthcare costs in a sustainable fashion is going to continue to be an issue for Americans. Millions of Americans have saved millions of dollars by ordering their medications online from Canada. Ordering safe and affordable medications from online Canadian pharmacies can help Americans moderate their healthcare costs.

Source: Payments for cost sharing increasing rapidly over time

Obamacare Rates to Increase

Posted by on August 22nd, 2016

Mexican man feeling frustrated with bills

Healthcare is going to get more expensive…that’s probably stating the obvious. According to Politico the average rate increase request under Obamacare, nationally, is 24%. In Tennessee the requested rate hikes are even more dramatic, Cigna is requesting a 46% increase, and Humana is requesting a 44% increase. The numbers will vary from state to state but the point is that the cost of healthcare is going to go up in 2017. The average approved rate increase so far is 17%.

Americans pay some of the highest health care costs in the world. Despite the fact that Obamacare has made health insurance available to millions more Americans, the actual costs of healthcare keep piling up. Premium hikes can be attributed to several issues. The obligation to insure people without regard to any pre-existing medical conditions or other general health issues has caused insurer’s costs to rise; and at least two programs designed to help insurers mitigate any large losses they might sustain are also set to expire in 2017.

Prescription drug prices also factor into this. Higher drug prices force insurers to examine their costs and what they cover. Some, like CVS and Express Scripts, will change their formularies or the prescription drugs they cover. They may swap out one medication for a cheaper option or drop certain medications altogether. High drug prices, in conjunction with other medical cost increases, make insurers look for ways to save money and/or hike premiums offset the larger financial payouts they are facing.

In times of ever higher healthcare costs, a lot of people are looking to save money any way they can. Many Americans have turned to purchasing their prescription drugs online from Canadian pharmacies to save money.

High prescription drug costs are a big cost to insurers and consumers alike. As drug prices increase they play a part in insurance companies’ calculations into what they need to charge in terms of premiums. High prescription drug prices may not be the biggest driver of premium rate hikes but they certainly play a part in them.

How Pharmaceutical Companies Feed Your Doctor $$$

Posted by on February 11th, 2015

Is your doctor the one listed in the government’s Open Payments Data system as have received over $1,000,000 in just 2013 to help promote and sell their products?

The advancements made in medicine have lead to longer lives, the eradication of several diseases and the management of formerly terminal conditions. We have a lot to be thankful for. But that’s not to say that the “system” isn’t without its problems. Lets take a look at how the pharmaceutical companies market all these products competing for their share of your wallets and your health.

Below is a youtube video that is wildly entertaining and yet also jam pact with raw data and facts regarding how the pharmaceutical companies manipulate doctors and sell directly to you through your televisions. One of the best links highlighted in the video is to a website launched by the U.S. Government (good on them – seriously!) that allows you to search for your doctor and see what sales and marketing incentives they have received from pharmaceutical companies.

How does your doctor fare?

The Cost for Brand Name Drugs Has Skyrocketed in the U.S.

Posted by on December 14th, 2012

iStock_000009645608XSmallIn 2012 prices for the most popular brand-name prescription drugs surged once again. This continues a long-term trend that has seen the price that Americans pay for leading brand name drugs outpace the rate of inflation every single year for the past decade.

In 2012, the most highly prescribed brand name drugs saw their average price increased by 13.3% overall. This report was done by Express Scripts and used information from a random sample of over six million Americans to compile its price figures.

The only bright spot for Americans that are struggling with record high drug costs is that overall in 2012, spending on all drugs only rose by 3.5%. The reason for this is that many leading brand name drugs, such as Lipitor, went generic in 2012. Overall, spending on generic medication as a category was 22% lower in 2012 than a year earlier.

Generics often offer the best possible value. Whenever a lower-cost generic is available from Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia or New Zealand, we here at offer it as a lower priced alternative to our patients. The price of brand name medication from also represents significant savings on drugs that have no generic equivalent available.

Almost 25% of drug spending in the U.S. in 2012 was spent was on drugs for mental and neurological disorders just as depression or Alzheimer’s. This category has seen the largest jump in use over the past decade, surpassing what is spent on drugs to combat various forms of diabetes and heart disease, the former leading category of medication spending. The reason for this is mostly because generic versions for many leading drugs to tackle depression or other mental disorders have not yet been released in generic versions, whereas many of the most prescribed drugs for heart disease have been released from patent protection and are now available in lower cost generic versions.

If brand name drug costs continue to grow as 13% a year, and Americans struggling with their cost are not allowed to look to safe, lower-cost international mail order pharmacies, more and more people will be pushed over the edge and will be unable to afford the medication they need.