Leigh Purvis Discusses the Burden of High Prescription Drug Costs

March 14, 2018

The burden of high drug costs is something that everyone with health insurance coverage is facing, explained Leigh Purvis, director, Health Services Research, AARP Public Policy Institute.

The burden of high drug costs is something that everyone with health insurance coverage is facing, explained Leigh Purvis, director, Health Services Research, AARP Public Policy Institute.

Transcript

How does the burden of high prescription drug costs in Medicare have a broader impact than just on Medicare beneficiaries?

This problem is not unique to Medicare. This is something that everyone who has health insurance coverage is facing, and frankly, all Americans are facing. A message we always like to drive home when it comes to prescription drug costs is that it’s an issue that affects everyone. You’re either paying for them at the pharmacy counter, you’re paying for them as part of your premiums or part of your cost-sharing as someone with health coverage, or you’re paying for them through your taxes. Programs like Medicare and Medicaid are spending a lot of money of these products, and that eventually will translate into taxes, and ultimately can turn into either higher taxes or cuts to the programs that people rely on.

How does the drug cost burden facing the US elderly population compare with the elderly population in other, similar countries?

I think high prescription drug costs are a challenge globally, but I think they’re much more so in the United States. We face much higher cost-sharing, we have higher cost-related non-adherence. Just the nature of the health coverage system in the United States is much more fragmented. It makes it harder for them to drive bargains on prices that other countries are able to do just by virtue of the fact that they’re bargaining on the behalf of everyone.