Rx Drug Spending, Health Care Use Rise in 2013, Report Finds
According to the report, consumer spending on prescription drugs last year increased by 3.2% to $329.2 billion. Although it was smaller than the two-digit increases recorded in previous decades, the spending increase was a reversal from a one percentage point decline in prescription drug spending in 2012.
The report cited several factors for the increase in prescription drug spending, including:
- High costs of some new brand-name drugs;
- A $10 billion reduced impact of patent expirations, compared with 2012; and
- The first spike in use of health care services in about three years.
The growth in prescription drug spending was curbed slightly by an increase in the use of generic drugs, which accounted for roughly 86% of all prescriptions filled last year. The low-cost versions of the brand-name drugs accounted for about 84% of all prescriptions filled in 2012, even though 2012 saw more generic drugs introduced to the market than in 2013.
Use of Health Care Service
The IMS report also found that patients' use of various health care services increased across the board, including physician visits, the volume of filled prescriptions and hospitalizations.
According to Reuters, the increased use of health care services did not reflect gains in coverage under the Affordable Care Act, which was only fully implemented this year. However, it could reflect declines in unemployment rates as more people appeared to have employer-sponsored coverage, as well as increases in consumer confidence.
Although the report found that the overall number of hospitalizations increased, the number of emergency department visits that resulted in in-patient admissions declined by 14.6%. According to Reuters, this suggests that many U.S. residents still are relying on high-cost emergency care services for non-emergency purposes (Berkrot, Reuters, 4/15).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.