The Uninsured Pay More for Prescription Drugs, Survey Finds
U.S. residents without health insurance pay more for prescription drugs than the federal government, according to a survey released on Thursday by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, the New York Daily News reports (Shin, New York Daily News, 10/22).
In the survey, researchers collected prices charged to uninsured residents for the 12 medications most commonly prescribed to patients younger than age 65 at more than 400 pharmacies in 19 states and Washington, D.C. Researchers compared the prices to those paid by the federal government. According to the survey, uninsured residents on average paid 78% more than the federal government for the 12 medications and as much as 162% more in some cases. The survey also found that uninsured individuals on average paid 105% more at U.S. pharmacies than at Canadian pharmacies for nine of the 12 medications and as much as 530% more in some cases.
U.S. PIRG consumer advocate Lindsey Johnson said, "HMOs and the federal government use their buying power to negotiate better prices for the drugs they purchase. But with no one bargaining on their behalf, uninsured Americans struggle to pay for needed medical treatment." U.S. PIRG called on Congress to legalize the reimportation of lower-priced prescription drugs from Canada and other nations with regulatory systems similar to those in the United States.
"Despite the growing popularity of prescription drug importation, Congress has failed to pass bipartisan legislation giving 45 million uninsured Americans access to low-cost prescription drugs," Johnson said, adding that state lawmakers "have passed innovative legislation to help uninsured consumers afford their prescription medication" (U.S. PIRG release, 10/22). The study is available online.