A Prescription-Free Way to Affordable Health
July 7, 2016
NCPA Senior Fellow Devon Herrick writes in Newsweek:
The American College of Physicians (ACP) is urging its 140,000 members to prescribe generic medications whenever possible, even if newer medicines are available. The ACP explains that people are far more likely to fill an inexpensive generic prescription because skyrocketing drug prices and insurance fees have made brand-name medicines increasingly unaffordable.
That recommendation, though a step in the right direction, doesn't go far enough. Often, the cheapest, safest and most effective treatments don't require a prescription at all.
It's time for doctors and insurers to steer patients to these non-prescription remedies. Doing so would save patients billions while improving their health.
Prescription drug prices keep rising. List prices for brand-name drugs jumped almost 15 percent in 2015. Even generic prices rose 3 percent.
Insurers increasingly pass on these costs to patients. Patients' average out-of-pocket spending jumped 77 percent from 2004 to 2014. Spending on insurance deductibles rose eight times as fast as wages. And expenditures on co-insurance -- an arrangement that forces patients to pay a large percentage of each prescription's cost -- more than doubled.
Many patients can't afford these costs. So they respond by skipping doses to make their prescriptions last longer. Or they don't fill the prescriptions at all -- and become sicker as a result.
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