A new report from the AARP Public Policy Institute shows that seniors, including those residing at assisted living facilities, are paying a much higher price to stay healthy and are disproportionately impacted by skyrocketing prescription drug costs. Among the biggest cost increases are medications designed as “maintenance drugs” used to manage common chronic conditions, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, COPD, arthritis, and acid reflux.
In fact, nearly all of the common maintenance drugs studied by AARP saw significant price spikes in 2015—most prices increased by more than 5%, which is far above the U.S. inflation rate. Of the 268 drugs analyzed in the report, almost all have risen in price since 2015—only three drugs actually were less expensive. What’s more, older Americans receive an average of 54 prescriptions every year, or four to five prescriptions per month, according to the AARP report. As a result, older adults using brand-name prescription drugs are likely to have experienced an average annual retail cost of drug therapy totaling more than $26,000 in 2015 – which exceeds the annual income for a Medicare beneficiary ($24,150).
Additionally, along with rising Rx costs comes the potential for older Americans to stop taking necessary medications. Indeed, clinicians, according to the AARP report, fear that the impact of high prescription drugs could reverberate much further down the road, especially for continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) where higher levels of care are part of the resident’s contract. “If recent trends in brand-name drug price increases continue unabated, the cost of drugs will prompt increasing numbers of older Americans to stop taking necessary medications,” the report warns. “This will lead to poorer health outcomes and higher healthcare costs in the future.”
Prescription drug prices affect all types of payers including taxpayer-funded programs like Medicare and Medicaid. For example, the Medicare Trustees recently noted that price increases for brand-name drugs are a major factor driving Medicare Part D spending growth, according to the AARP report. “Higher government spending driven by large drug price increases will affect all Americans in the form of higher taxes, cuts to public programs, or both,” noted AARP.
There are many issues affecting the level of care senior living facilities can provide. At Caitlin Morgan, we specialize in providing insurance programs for senior living facilities, including assisted living facilities and CCRCs, and are committed to sharing these issues with you to better serve the needs of clients. For more information about our insurance programs for assisted living facilities, nursing homes, independent living facilities and others, please call us at 877.226.1027.