AARP Report Finds Sky-High Drug Prices

Escalating drug prices have been making the news in recent months. In particular, the exorbitant price tags of two brand-name drugs used to treat Hepatitis C — Solvaldi and Harvoni — have ignited intense controversy. I talked with Leigh Purvis, director of health services research, AARP Public Policy Institute, and coauthor of AARP’s Rx Price Watch Report: Trends in Retail Prices of Brand Name Prescription Drugs Widely Used by Older Americans, 2006-2013 about the trend in rising drug prices and what …

Pay Less for Your Prescription Drugs

By Nicole Duritz The dog days of August are the most likely time for Medicare Part D participants to fall into the “doughnut hole” and see their prescription costs rise. With AARP resources, you can see if you’re at risk of falling in, and find options for lowering your drug costs. The Doughnut Hole Each year, 19 percent of Medicare Part D beneficiaries fall into the doughnut hole. Once the amount of money you and your insurance company pay for …

Medicare Drug Premiums Will Rise Just $1 a Month

The average monthly premium for a basic prescription drug plan under Medicare Part D will be just $1 higher next year, the government projects. What’s more, Medicare beneficiaries get some of the credit for keeping the average low by shopping around, the Associated Press reports. For this year, seven of the top 10 Medicare drug plans raised premiums by 10 percent or more. But the average stayed low because many seniors chose plans with lower premiums. “Consumer advocates say beneficiaries should …

Automatic Prescription Refills: Helpful or Wasteful?

Prescription drug programs that automatically ship out refills at regular intervals can help older Americans follow doctor’s orders, according to business organizations that are lobbying against a Medicare crackdown on the practice. Medicare, though, says that the automatic refill programs lead to waste when beneficiaries get prescriptions they don’t need and can’t return them. In February, the Centers for Medicare & Medicare Services (CMS) proposed new regulations that say, in part: “Shipment of unwanted medications is not only wasteful, but …

Are Brand Name Drugs Driving Up Medicare Spending?

By Ankita Rao, Staff Writer, Kaiser Health News A new study suggests that cash-strapped Medicare missed an opportunity to save more than $1 billion by not addressing the varying costs and use of prescription drugs. “The main issue, and the only way to fix this, is to change what physicians are doing,” said Dr. Walid Gellad, a lead author and internist with the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System and the University of Pittsburgh. Physicians in the VA system follow an approval …

Memo to Doctors: Why Are You Over-Drugging Seniors?

What the heck is going on with doctors in some parts of the country who prescribe risky drugs for older adults? According to an analysis of more than 6 million seniors on Medicare Advantage, more than 20 percent are prescribed at least one high-risk medication. The problem is most common in the South, among women, and in relatively poor areas, report public health researchers with Brown University. Risky medications are ones that health authorities have specifically recommended against prescribing to …