Medicare Itemizes Its $103 Billion Drug Bill

The federal government popped the cap off drug spending on April 30, detailing doctor-by-doctor and drug-by-drug how Medicare and its beneficiaries spent $103 billion on pharmaceuticals in 2013. The data show that 14 drugs cost the federal government and Medicare beneficiaries more than $1 billion each, accounting for nearly a quarter of Medicare prescription drug spending in 2013. Most of those drugs are used to treat chronic conditions that plague the elderly, including diabetes, depression, high cholesterol and blood pressure, …

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 …