Study: Senior's Drug Costs Soar

ByABC News
July 31, 2000, 6:17 AM

W A S H I N G T O N, July 31 -- In the past eight years, Americans age 65 andolder have watched their prescription drug costs double, withprices expected to more than double again in the next 10 years, ahealth care advocacy group said.

Without prescription drug coverage by Medicare, fewer seniorswill be able to afford the dozens of prescriptions they must filleach year, said Families USA, which lobbies for universal healthcoverage.

A study commissioned by the group and released today saidAmericans 65 and older pay an average of $1,205 a year forprescriptions up from $559 in 1992 and will shell out $2,810apiece by 2010.

Prescription drugs now account for about 10 percent of seniorshealth costs and will likely rise to 13.3 percent in 2010, thereport said.

Older Americans account for only 13 percent of the nationspopulation but pay 42 cents of every dollar spent on prescriptiondrugs, it said. They also pay more per pill because their purchasesaccount for only 34 percent of total prescriptions.

When they go to the pharmacy, they pay higher prices for theirdrugs than anyone, because theres no one bargaining on theirbehalf, said Ron Pollack, Families USA executive director.

Almost 30 Prescriptions Annually

The study said the average seniors cost per prescription hasrisen dramatically, from $28.50 in 1992 to $42.30 now, and isprojected to jump to $72.94 in 2010.

Whats worse, Pollack said, seniors also are buying moreprescriptions than ever.

He said the elderly got by on about 20 prescriptions per year in1992. Now they buy about 29 annually, and are expected to buy about39 by 2010.

The study was based on data gathered by Medicare, the federalhealth plan for the aged and disabled. Projections for future costswere developed by the PRIME Institute, a consulting group at theUniversity of Minnesota.

Families USA is urging lawmakers to expand Medicare to coverprescription drugs. It hopes the move will provide fuller drugcoverage for low-income Americans while giving the government morebargaining power to force drug manufacturers to lower their prices.