When Will the Drug-Pricing High End?

News broke recently that Mylan, the exclusive manufacturer of the life-saving drug “Epi-Pen,” would be raising the cost of their prescription to over $600 per two-pack. Earlier this year it was the Wall Street banker who bought the rights to a life-saving HIV drug and promptly raised it to egregious levels; then it was the cancer treatment whose costs exploded – both drawing criticisms from leaders across the country, including presidential candidates. The finger-pointing is incessant – it’s the drug manufacturers; it’s the insurance carriers; it’s Wall Street profiteers…the list goes on.

The reality is we live in a new era. It’s an era where you and I demand the latest and greatest to save our lives, or at least extend the lives of our loved ones. We see an ad for Harvoni, and don’t blink an eye – of course if I’m diagnosed with Hep C, I want the drug that has a 99% efficacy! But who pays the $100,000 price tag for the 12-week treatment?

The answer is you do. Your company does. Your insurance carrier does. The taxpayer does. We all do. It’s a trend that doesn’t have an easy answer. Today, you can expect that pharmaceutical costs are the largest driver of your major medical insurance – and yes, that’s even compared against the massive costs associated with PPACA. We are seeing averages of 30% of overall claims spends being attributed to drugs alone. So again we ask, who pays for this?

A trend emerged with FSAs, HRAs, and ultimately HSAs a decade ago and has continued to grow – that of consumerism. You shop around for care and goods – even medical care – the way you do for any other consumer products. You spend time researching – like you do gas mileage, airfares or even tuition. You go to sites like internet drug coupons, stores like Publix and pharmacies like Canadian MedStore who are doing something different that impacts your pocketbook. Speaking of Epi-pen, check out this link and video: http://wfla.com/2016/08/25/mylan-offers-300-coupon-for-epipen-boosts-patient-program-after-complaints/

High drug prices, like costly medical treatments, are here to stay and we all must confront them. But we don’t need to fall victim – do your research, shop around, and lean on your advocates and resources.

Corey Lilburn, CEBS, CSFS, is one of Alltrust’s Senior Benefits Specialists and Shareholders. To contact him, CLICK HERE.

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