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Polling Data Confirms the Difficulty Caused by High Drug Prices

We’ve written about high prescription prices before, but the problem won’t go away. A new poll by the Kaiser Health Foundation goes directly to people 65 and over to explore the effects of rising drug prices. 

Nine in ten senior adults take prescription medication. Older adults are also more likely to be taking multiple prescription medications. Fifty-four percent of those polled report taking four or more prescription drugs.

“The data confirm that prescription drug affordability continues to be a top concern. While most older adults have prescription drug coverage through Medicare Part D, 76% think the cost of prescription drugs is unreasonable. This viewpoint is consistent across party lines, with majorities of Democrats (81%), independents (74%), and Republicans (70%) in agreement.” (Medicare Interactive)

The poll also revealed the effects of high drug pricing. Over a quarter of those polled had difficulty affording their prescriptions. More importantly, one on ten people had extreme difficulty and one in five went without their prescriptions due to high costs.

Isn’t that why I have a Medicare D or Medicare Advantage plan?

Although most seniors have prescription drug coverage through Medicare Part D, which is Medicare’s voluntary prescription drug benefit, most older adults (76%) think the cost of prescription drugs is unreasonable. The poll found that of those who had Medicare Part D, “nearly half of all older adults reported experiencing access challenges due to difficulties with their plan. Nearly 30% said their plan didn’t cover a drug prescribed by their doctor, while 23% experienced delays due to step therapy, and 21% had to wait more than two days to get a prescription filled due to their plan’s prior authorization requirements.” (Medicare Interactive/Kaiser Health Foundation)

Legislative and administrative help may be forthcoming, but it’s unlikely it will affect plans prior to 2020. Finding the best plan to mitigate high drug pricing can help. Medicare offered an updated Medicare Plan Finder this year. While somewhat easier to navigate than previous versions, it can still be difficult to make the best decision. Having an experienced, independent review of available plans can help. My Medicare Guy uses Medicare.gov to analyze Rx drugs for all clients so that each individual can see every prescription drug plan available in their county—whether in a Medicare Advantage Plan or as a stand-alone Prescription Drug Plan that would be used in conjunction with a Medicare Supplement Plan (Medigap).