High cost of medications hurting health system
By David Potter, M.D.
Chico Enterprise-Record, July 29, 2014
I appreciated your article about Medicare for all Americans. I did want to expound a little bit about Tom Reed's point about drug costs.
The high cost of medications in our health system is a huge problem. Ten percent or more of American patients don't take important or life-saving medications because they can't afford them. And some people take medications they can't afford and experience bankruptcy at a rate unknown in other countries. For example, cancer patients in the United States are twice as likely as the general public to experience bankruptcy and a lot of that is due to the cost of cancer drugs.
By law, Medicare is not allowed to negotiate with drug companies to get the best price. And our prices are two to four times those in other countries. Interestingly, the VA is allowed to negotiate drug prices and their prices are half of those facing Medicare recipients.
Expanding Medicare to everyone would be a good way to ensure universal access to health care. In the meantime, allowing Medicare to negotiate prices with the drug companies would help lower the cost of medical care for people who are covered by Medicare already.
Dr. David Potter resides in Chico.