In the State of the Union speech last night, President Obama highlighted prescription savings benefits in his otherwise brief coverage of new healthcare reform. As we’ve previously reported, and President Obama was clear to state, those prescription savings will go mostly to our nation’s seniors who are enrolled in Medicare. Beginning last September, many of America’s seniors received $250 rebate checks for prescription drug costs, a small step toward affordable healthcare. Better yet, starting this year, the coverage gap will narrow, with enrollees receiving a 50% discount on brand name drugs, and by 2020, a 75% discount. While the “doughnut hole” will not fully be closed, the savings will mean that far fewer Medicare enrollees will face exorbitant brand name drug prices out of pocket.
Prescription drug prices, however, still remain a threat to the public health, as U.S. brand name drugs are often double the cost of the same products sold in other countries – and in some cases far more than double – keeping them out of reach for many of the 50 million Americans who remain without health insurance. People who skip taking their drugs can get sick and sometimes die. Particularly vulnerable is the pre-Medicare age demographic, those who are between the ages of 50-64 who, like seniors, have higher prescription drug needs than the overall population. This demographic is especially hit hard by chronic unemployment, which means that many have lost their health insurance during the recession.
In 2014, under current law, millions more Americans will have health insurance. But they don’t now. Hopefully this year the government will take actions that are conducive to greater access for uninsured and under-insured Americans to safe and affordable medication, including greater facilitation for the personal importation of prescription drugs purchased through properly verified online pharmacies. Too many Americans are still going without their medications due to cost and efforts to help them can’t come too soon.Tagged with: 50-64, brand name drugs, discount, doughnut hole, health insurance, Medicare, personal drug importation, prescription drugs, President Obama, rebate, seniors, State of The Union, uninsured