Rx Drug Prices To Rise 19% in 2003, Insurer Survey Finds
Prescription drug prices will rise 19% in 2003, a situation that could add fuel to the debate over a Medicare drug benefit, according to a survey of 60 major insurers, the Hartford Courant reports. The insurers were surveyed by human resources consultant Segal Co. According to Sean Brandle, a Segal vice president, the reasons for the projected increase include new expensive drug therapies, more doctors prescribing medicines and drug companies' marketing practices. According to the Segal survey, voters most often cite the cost of prescription medications as a problem, and the importance of drug costs increased during the midterm congressional elections, the Courant reports. "When Congress returns next year under Republican leadership, we must make the changes needed to modernize and strengthen Medicare," Sen. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) said (MacDonald, Hartford Courant, 12/16).
The Bush administration reportedly is considering a Medicare drug benefit plan that would focus on low-income seniors. Under the plan, the federal government would encourage Medicare beneficiaries to purchase private pharmacy discount cards "worth several hundred dollars" and private insurance policies to protect against "catastrophic" prescription drug costs. The government would cover the cost of the pharmacy discount cards and the insurance policies for low-income seniors; other seniors would have to pay out-of-pocket but would receive a tax deduction (California Healthline, 12/9). However, a Medicare drug benefit is not a guarantee, Drew Altman, president of the Kaiser Family Foundation, said, adding, "We are still in a post-Sept. 11 world, and the public is focused on terrorism, the possibility of war and the economy" (MacDonald, Hartford Courant, 12/16).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.