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What We're Reading: Drug Prices During Shortages; Healthcare and Small Businesses; Federal Employee Premiums

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Not only do drug prices increase during shortages, but drugs prescribed as substitutes also have higher costs; small business owners have identified the cost of healthcare as the most important issue affecting them; the average enrollee share of premiums for federal employees will increase 1.5% in 2019.

Pharma Companies Increase Drug Prices During Shortages

A new study has found that not only do drug prices increase during shortages, but drugs prescribed as substitutes also have higher costs. Forbes reported that drug prices increased 7.3% in the 11 months before shortages and 16% for another 11 months after. The price increases were even higher when the product had 3 or fewer competitors. There were 146 shortages in 2017 and there have been 95 so far in 2018.

Small Business Owners Highlight Burden of Healthcare Costs

A survey has found that small business owners have identified the cost of healthcare as the most important issue affecting them. According to The Hill, 40% chose healthcare costs, which could be important in the upcoming midterm elections. The survey also found that small business owners are politically active, with 77% voting regularly in local elections and 93% voting in national contests. In addition, Democrats have an edge on healthcare issues in the midterms.

Federal Employee Healthcare Premiums

While the healthcare plans that cover nearly two-thirds of federal employees and retirees will see decreases in premiums in 2019, the average premium for federal employees will increase 1.5%. The government pays about 70% of premium for federal employees, reported The Washington Post. Federal employees have seen a few years of increases of about 6% to 7%, but lower-than-expected claims rates, renegotiated contracts, and the expansion of telehealth services have helped keep the increase down for 2019. In total, there are 265 plans available to federal employees in 2019.

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