More on Seniors and Drugs

The dollars we spend on drugs, from a social point of view, are giving us a bigger return than dollars spent on any other form of therapy.  Yet, ironically, some of the easiest ways to reduce spending on health care relate to pharmaceuticals – especially switching from brand drugs to therapeutic, generic and over-the-counter substitutes.

Indeed, the fact that more people are managing more of their own health care dollars is probably the single best explanation for the recent moderation of spending on drugs, which in turn is causing a moderation in health care spending overall.

As Devon Herrick explains in a new NCPA brief analysis, there are lessons here for seniors.  Those experiencing high out-of-pocket costs in the “donut hole” wouldn’t be in the donut hole if they (or a family member) took advantage of tools available on the Internet – to choose less expensive drug options and plans that best fit their needs.

But since drugs affect people differently, seniors need to keep their options open.  Seniors as a group would suffer if we adopted a command and control approach like the VA system, which pays reduced prices but limits availability to a very restrictive formulary.  (The VA system covers only about one-fourth the drugs Medicare covers).

If it’s Internet versus the VA system, the Internet is better.

Read the Brief Analysis

Comments (3)

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  1. Bill Lewis says:

    Your health alert today regarding Seniors and drug prices is right on target. More seniors need to get Internet savy or get help from reliable people who are.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Can't those receiving VA benefits use the internet to shop for uncovered drugs?

  3. john says:

    I disagree. There is no bigger return on dollars spent than that obtaines with cataract surgery. Multiple studies have demonstrated that the quality of life improvement one obtains routinely with cataract surgery per dollars spent is unmatched by any other intervention in all of medicine. Yet Medicare continues to ratchet down dramatically the reimbursement for this procedure both in nominal and real terms. Several eye surgeons I have spoken with are going to stop performing this procedure due to its incredibly poor reimbursement (slightly over $600.00 for the surgery and three months of post-operative care). The demand for this intervention is going explode in the next twenty years, but if one is reimbursed at a rate less then the cost of a pair of designer eyeglasses who is going to perform it? And even if a surgeon opts out of Medicare he law can only charge 110% of Medicare rates.