We probably don’t need to tell you that prescription drugs are often expensive. But with prices rising year after year, often outpacing other types of inflation, older Americans are experiencing more difficulty than ever.
In fact, a new report from the Office of Health Policy at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services demonstrated that 3.5 million Americans age 65 and older frequently struggled to afford their prescriptions in 2019. Many even resort to skipping doses of needed medications due to being unable to afford the full cost.
The report noted: “The high cost and out-of-pocket expenses of drugs cause many Americans — particularly those with chronic conditions such as diabetes — to delay or skip taking needed treatments.”
Other key findings of the report included:
- Black and latino Medicare beneficiaries over the age of 65 were 1.5 to 2 times more likely to experience difficulty affording their prescriptions
- Gender also impacted affordability, with 7.8 percent of women and 5.2 percent of men reporting problems affording their medications
- Among Medicare beneficiaries with diabetes, 9.9 percent of those over 65 reported problems with affording prescriptions, compared to 6.6 percent of the overall over-65 population
- Not surprisingly, 11 percent of those below 200 percent of the poverty level reported affordability issues, compared with 4.7 percent of those above 200 percent of poverty level
Enrolling in a Part D (prescription drug) plan can help Medicare beneficiaries to manage costs. But having a plan isn’t enough; becoming familiar with the formulary, and reviewing each year during the Annual Election Period, is key to obtaining the lowest possible out-of-pocket costs.
And of course, Congress continues to debate various plans to bring down the cost of prescription drugs for everyone. But in the meantime, working closely with your Licensed Agent can help you to understand your plan as well as other options available to you.