Wallet feeling a little lighter? It may be the cost of your prescription drugs. On average, the prices of prescription medications have nearly doubled over the last five years, according to a new report by the nation’s largest pharmacy benefits organization.
Why? In part due to “opportunistic manufacturers” and “scheming” pharmacies, who have helped drive up prices by 98.2 percent since 2011, according to the report.
Prescription Drug Costs Are Rising
Spending on prescription drugs for insured Americans rose about 5 percent last year alone. The study data indicates that this was caused both by a spike in medication usage and higher prices for medication – particularly “specialty medications.” In 2015, the Food and Drug Administration approved 33 specialty drugs, the majority of which will be utilized to treat cancer.
Specialty drugs are only taken by about 2 percent of Americans. But spending for these drugs rose 17.8 percent in 2015, with an average price hike of 11 percent across the board for these medications plus a 6.8 percent increase in the number of prescriptions filled for these drugs.
The drug category that currently draws the highest costs is a category of specialty medicines that treat inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis, a report from the Associated Press noted. In contrast, from 2011 through 2014, the drug class with the most spending was prescription drugs for diabetes, taken by millions of Americans.
The standard medications that make the most money for drug manufactures are treatments for skin conditions (prices are up by 26.4 percent) and medication for heartburn/ulcers (prices up by 36.3 percent).
This year also saw spending increases of 13.6 percent from patients who had obtained insurance coverage via Obamacare. This rate of spending is much higher than that seen in private insurance and Medicare and Medicaid prescription plans. The spending increase was primarily attributed to newly insured people taking medications that they couldn’t afford when they were uninsured.
Future Cost Increases for Prescription Drugs
The (somewhat) good news is that this year’s hike in prices in only half of the 10% rise in price that we saw in 2014.
The report, which was created by Express Scripts, also found the average price of brand-name drugs already on the market increased by 16.2 percent in 2015 and has risen 98.2% since 2011. Prices jumped more than 20% for one-third of brand-name prescription drugs last year.
Express Scripts forecasts drug spending will rise 6 to 8 percent annually from 2016 through 2018. Data uses in the report are based on prescription claims processed by Express Scripts, the company provides benefits for about 85 million Americans.
Save On Prescription Medications
If you’re struggling to afford the medications that you need to take, investigate health savings plans. The plans available on dentalplans.com provide deep discounts on a bundle of health and wellness services which range from telemedicine –free consultations with local doctors who can diagnose and treat common ailments (including prescribing medications), discounts on prescriptions, vision care (including glasses, sunglasses, contact lenses and LASIK surgery), savings on labwork and medical diagnostic services, even discounted fees on chiropractic care, alternative medicine and fitness centers.