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The rapid growth in spending on prescription drugs has pushed up health insurance premiums for individuals and families, has contributed to increases in the cost of health benefits provided by employers, and has driven up the cost of Medicaid, the joint federal and state program for people on low incomes. Proper healthcare is not available to a person with a low-income level.
According to a 1998 survey by the Wall Street Journal, 80 percent of retirees use a prescription drug every day, and the average Medicare beneficiary needs 18 prescriptions a year (Brock). Retirees have a fixed income not allowing extra money to flow in and out of their budget. Paying for prescription medications puts a strain on their financial situations. There are three main factors accounted for the overall rise in spending; an increase in the number of prescriptions written by doctors (accounting for 42%), a shift towards the use of more expensive drugs (36%), and price increases (22%) (Charatan).
Not only does a person who is without healthcare have to pay for the doctor fee but also the price increase of using more expensive medications and the choice of using generic verse name brand. The cost of prescriptions increase is if a person cannot have their prescription filled through the generic brand. Not all prescription medications have the option of the generic equivalence.
Alan Holmer, president of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the main trade association for the drug companies, said, "This report should be hailed as good news" because it means that "more patients are getting more and better medicines." He said that the report confirmed what many patients had discovered for themselves - that "prescription medicines are the best value in health care today, allowing patients to stay out of the hospital, off the surgery table, on the job, and in the home (Charatan). The need for prescription medications is great in the American Society. The Commonwealth Fund survey found that "many working Americans with below average incomes do not have the option of obtaining coverage from their jobs, a problem that is particularly acute for low-wage workers." The researchers found that Hispanics are at particularly high risk of being uninsured or for lacking access to employer-based plans. The survey also found that 24% of Americans failed to see a physician, fill a prescription, or undergo a recommended test or treatment because they could not afford it (www.personalmd.com). By being able to pay for the medications, people are cutting out the cost of entering the emergency room, which has a greater cost than prescription medications.
America needs a strong and viable health care system. The Bipartisan Patient Protection Act supports that strategic need. There appears to be significant public support for a patients’ Bill of Rights. The Kaiser Family Foundation and Harvard School of Public Health conducted a nationwide survey following the presidential election in 2000. They found that 71 percent of all Republicans and 81 percent of all Democrats supported patients’ rights legislation (Post Election Survey Finds Health Issues Rank High for Voters, But Consensus on Solutions Will Be Hard To Reach). The rhetoric and rancor that surrounds the liability issue may just be hype. When The State of Texas approved liability suits for non-ERISA HMOs, two years ago, many people predicted a tidal wave of lawsuits. The flood turned out to be a trickle. Only 22 new health care lawsuit cases were filed in the first year of that law (Patients’ Rights for All Patients) Lawyers did not kill the tobacco companies.
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