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High Drug Costs Could Lead to Increased Medicare Beneficiary Deaths

Increased costs of medications could result in reduced adherence, and in turn, cause more than 1.1 million deaths of Medicare beneficiaries in the next 10 years, according to a report published by West Health.

West Health is comprised of several nonprofit and nonpartisan organizations dedicated to lowering health care costs, particularly for older adults among the Medicare population.

“One of the biggest contributors to poor health, hospital admissions, higher health care costs, and preventable death is patients failing to take their medications as prescribed,” said Timothy Lash, President, West Health Policy Center. “Cost-related nonadherence is a significant and growing issue that is a direct result of runaway drug prices and a failure to implement policies and regulations that make drugs more affordable.”

The report explained that if the course of pricing remains the same, and beneficiaries are unable to afford their medication, millions will suffer worsening conditions and pose added expenses to Medicare—an estimated additional $177.4 billion by 2030 or $18 billion a year for the next 10 years.

Currently, under Medicare statutes, beneficiaries pay a quarter of the cost of generic and brand-name medications which for some, especially those with multiple conditions, could result in substantial out-of-pocket costs.

“If current drug pricing trends continue,” the report explained, “researchers estimate cost-related nonadherence to drug therapy will result in the premature deaths of 112,000 beneficiaries a year, making it a leading cause of death in the US, ahead of diabetes, influenza, pneumonia, and kidney disease.” —Edan Stanley

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