Prescription drug use in the U.S. has returned to pre-pandemic levels. While the medication costs have remained flat, the out-of-pocket amount consumers are spending on their medications has increased – according to an April 2022 IQVIA report.
In fact, there was a reported $4 billion increase in out-of-pocket costs for patients. This cost matched the historically-high amount previously seen in 2018. That trend may continue.
More Spending for Prescriptions Without Health Insurance
While opioid prescriptions have fallen due to widespread abuse, more than 250 new drugs are ready to launch within the next five years, contributing over $100 billion in expected new spending. Many new products focus on immunology, oncology, neurology, and next-generation biotherapeutics. These new prescription drugs (and the current products on the market) are expected to reach as much as $20 billion in annual sales by 2026.
The Impact on Consumers
While the new medications are exciting for many in the medical community, increasing out-of-pocket spending on prescription drugs causes many consumers concerns. A specific part of the population will feel this burden.
The report noted, “Due in part to high costs, an estimated additional 81 million prescriptions were abandoned at the pharmacy, with the abandonment rate over one in three for prescriptions above $75 in out-of-pocket cost, especially for high-cost specialty medicines that treat cancer and immunology.”
Other Healthcare Changes That Were the Result of the Pandemic
In related news, telehealth visits increased dramatically during the pandemic since many in-person services were shut down or sharply reduced. This was especially true in mental health areas. The report states, “telehealth visits accounted for less than 1% of visits before the pandemic and rose to 15% in April 2020 at the height of pandemic lockdowns.”
Even though patients no longer are required to confer with doctors in this manner, patients and providers have continued to use remote options. This means that the pandemic may have caused a fundamental shift in the ways patients and providers interact.
How a Health Benefit Plan Can Help
Consider researching health discount plans if you have been affected by increased out-of-pocket spending for prescription drugs. Unlike costly medical insurance, a health benefit plan will allow you to receive discounts when paying out-of-pocket for drugs and services.
Additionally, some health benefit plan companies have packages that allow patients to access U.S. board-certified doctors (including pediatricians) by phone seven days a week. Now that both doctors and patients are used to this type of medical service, you will see health benefit plans offer this cost-saving option for people without health insurance.
Concerned About Health Costs? AmeriPlan Can Help!
AmeriPlan offers three packages for patients concerned about rising out-of-pocket spending for needed medical services. One option – the Telehealth Plus Plan – gives you immediate savings on telehealth visits and prescription drugs (including diabetic supplies!) And if in-office doctor visits are needed, the patient is promised affordable pre-negotiated rates.