Washington, US.- Medicare recipients filled fewer prescriptions for pricey brand-name drugs — but spent more on such meds anyway, says a government report released Monday. It blames rising manufacturer prices for squeezing older people and taxpayers.
The Health and Human Services inspector general’s office says it found a 17 percent drop in the overall number of prescriptions for brand-name medications under Medicare’s “Part D” drug program over a recent five-year period.
But beneficiaries’ costs for branded drugs went in the opposite direction. From 2011 to 2015, their share of annual costs rose by 40 percent, from $161 in 2011 to $225 on average. Data for 2011- 2015 were the most recent available for the analysis.
“Increases in unit prices for brand-name drugs resulted in Medicare and its beneficiaries paying more for these drugs,” said the report. Rising Medicare payments for brand-name drugs “will continue to affect Part D and its beneficiaries for years to come.”
Although new drugs priced at $100,000 a year or more grab headlines, the report emphasized that the most persistent problem for Medicare beneficiaries is the high cost of maintenance medications for common chronic conditions like diabetes.
Total outof-pocket costs for patients were highest for brand-name insulin, cholesterol drugs and asthma inhalers.