SingleCare Industry News Round-up 8/12: Lower Drug Costs, Rising Premiums and Healthcare Inequality

Cropped SingleCare logo By | August 12, 2016

Stay up-to-date with another round-up of this week’s news in healthcare! Read about seven strategies to lower the cost of prescription drugs, the anticipated rise of healthcare premiums prices next year, and a new report on healthcare inequality.

First, take a look at seven different ways to try and lower the cost of prescription drugs through Medicare in the face of price inflation.

Medical inflation is particularly apparent when it comes to prescription drug inflation, which is typically handled under Medicare Part D, aka, the prescription drug plan. A study conducted by AARP found that seniors had witnessed a better than doubling in prescription drug costs over just a seven-year period (2006 to 2013), with inflation for drugs covered by Part D showing no signs of slowing. With no annual cap on the amount of money a beneficiary can be charged out of pocket by Medicare Part D, it pays to understand the actions you can take to lower your Medicare prescription drug costs.

Next, read a report on how healthcare premiums are expected to rise by six percent in 2017, which far outpaces growth in the economy.

Large employers expect health costs to continue rising by about 6 percent in 2017, a moderate increase compared with historical trends that nevertheless far outpaces growth in the economy, two new surveys show. […] Employers are changing tactics to address the cost trend, slowing the shift to worker cost sharing and instead offering video or telephone links to doctors, scrutinizing costs of specialty drugs and steering patients to hospitals with records of lower costs and better results.

Finally, a new study finds that inequality in healthcare is on the rise, with upper class citizens getting 40% more doctor visits than the poor, who are frequently in greater need of medical attention.

In the bad old days of the 1960s — before Medicare and Medicaid — the wealthy got twice as much care as the poor. But those programs changed things. By 1977, the poor were getting 14 percent more care than the wealthy — an appropriate difference since the poor are sicker and need more care. […] By 2012 the wealthy were getting 40 percent more doctor visits than other Americans. Overall, after adjusting for differences in age and health, the wealthy got 43 percent more care than the poor — $1,743 per person — and left the middle class in the dust too; the latter got $1,082 less care than the rich.

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