In a recent study, the American Association of Retired Persons examined retail prices of prescription drugs. According to their research, prescription prices have risen about six times faster since 2006 than the rate of inflation. State chapters of AARP want to remind seniors to check with their individual state chapter to see what programs exist for prescription assistance. In many states, there are assistance programs that cover some or all of the cost of certain medications.
In a recent report from the AARP’s Public Policy Institute, the average full cost of an annual supply of just one prescription drug is over $11,000 and this is equal to about 75 percent of the average Social Security beneficiary’s income. It is easy to see why many seniors cannot afford their medications. As the prices of prescriptions continue to climb, the out-of-pocket costs and monthly insurance premiums also rise for seniors everywhere. Since the prescription-to-inflation rate shows no signs of evening out or slowing down in favor of medications, more seniors will need financial help as time passes.
Of the prescriptions analyzed in the study, 280 were generic drugs, 227 were brand-name drugs and 115 were specialty drugs. For prescription drugs that were widely used, there was an annual cost increase of almost 9 percent. However, the inflation rate was less than 2 percent. For brand-name drugs, the average yearly cost increase was almost 13 percent. The increase was about 11 percent for specialty drugs and 4 percent for generic drugs.
Researchers said that these disappointing statistics show how they can no longer rely on decreasing costs of generic drugs as a way to offset the high prices of specialty drugs and brand-name drugs. In addition to having negative implications for America’s aging population, these startling cost increases will negatively affect the entire health care system. For now, prescription drug plans from private health insurance plans, Medicare and state-sponsored programs offer some relief to seniors who are paying hefty prices for their necessary prescriptions.
State programs usually offer comprehensive coverage to state residents of a specific age group. Funds may come from a variety of sources, and the amount of coverage depends on the program and available funds. Seniors who have not learned about state-sponsored plans in their specific state of residence may discuss this option with an agent. Some plans are supplemental to an existing one while with most plans, seniors pay discounted prices when they buy generic medications. There may also be somewhat of a discount on many brand-name drugs.
Eligibility for state programs usually requires proof of income. Seniors should have documents such as bank statements, tax forms or other income statements to support an application. Limits are usually in accordance with the average annual Social Security income rate for singles and married couples. Many programs also work in accordance with Medicare Part D coverage, which provides seniors with significant discounts.
Since older adults are especially prone to suffering from the rising prices of prescription medications, it is important for anyone who is 60 or older to start exploring options for the near future. People who have limited savings and extensive health problems will need as many supplemental aids as possible. To learn more about coverage options and qualification criteria, discuss concerns with an agent.