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Over 90% of U.S. hospitals admit to cutting or changing care because of high drug prices. Moreover, high drug prices are forcing hospitals to cut staff to get money for medicine.
Specifically, drug prices grew by 18.5%, between 2015 and 2017, as Healthcare Dive reports. Hospitals further state that prices for some drugs grew by 80% between 2015 and 2017.
For example, the average hospital’s drug bill grew by $1.8 million between 2015 and 2017, a University of Chicago report concludes. Furthermore, outpatient drug spending at hospitals grew by 28.7% between 2015 and 2017.
Hospitals are losing any money that they save with outpatient treatment to these remarkably high drug costs. Particularly, outpatient drug costs were 9.6% higher than inpatient drug costs.
High Drug Prices Force Hospitals To Cut Staff
At the present time, one in four hospitals surveyed admit to cutting staff to find money to cover high drug costs.
Additionally, 90% of hospital administrators disclose that they are using alternative treatments due to high drug prices. A drastic example of such alternative treatment would be amputating an infected limb instead of applying antibiotics.
Notably, hospitals report 80% increases in the prices of opioid pain relievers, anesthetics, and chemotherapy drugs. In this case, another example of alternative treatments could be surgery or radiation instead of chemotherapy for a cancer patient.
Medicare Is Not Covering High Drug Prices Anymore
Medicare is currently making the situation worse because high drug prices often exceed Medicare reimbursements. As a result, hospitals must use operating funds to buy drugs for Medicare patients.
In fact, drug prices are growing at five times the rate of Medicare reimbursements. For this reason, hospitals could potentially have to pay $5 for every $1 that Medicare reimburses them.
Under these circumstances, certain hospitals may stop taking Medicare patients unless they are affluent ones. Some older Americans could even find themselves without healthcare entirely because of such high drug costs.
Will Medicaid Expansion Increase High Drug Prices?
Significantly, the report concludes that high drug prices and drug shortages put patients at risk. In detail, some hospitals lack the funds or resources to treat patients because of excessive drug costs.
Oddly enough, Medicaid expansion could soon make high drug prices and shortages worse. To elaborate, more Medicaid now means more poor patients who cannot cover the high drug costs. In effect, hospitals will have to treat more patients with less money.
In particular, a Medicaid buy-in scheme allows anybody to take part in Medicaid by paying a premium. Democrats want a Medicaid buy-in program because it will enable working people who cannot afford health insurance to take part in Medicaid.
Notwithstanding, Medicaid buy-in could increase healthcare costs because sick people with expensive, preexisting conditions could take part in it. In fact, Medicaid buy-in recipients could require more medical care since they are likely to be older and sicker than other citizens.
Medicare For All Could Lead To Higher Drug Costs
Beyond Medicaid, some Democrats are proposing to expand Medicare to everybody over 50 to buy votes. Currently, Medicare eligibility for most Americans begins at 65. Therefore, Democrats could add tens of millions of people to Medicare to get more votes.
Besides expanded Medicare, Democrats such as Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez want Medicare for All. Obviously, this would mean that everyone would take part in the Medicare system.
Amazingly, Medicare cannot even cover current high drug costs and yet Democrats want to expand it to include everybody. So, a potential result of Medicare for All could be the collapse of the healthcare system because millions of patients cannot afford to receive medical treatment.
In summary, high drug prices threaten the healthcare of all Americans. Moreover, politicians like Ocasio-Cortez could make things worse with Medicare for All.
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Do you have any other thoughts about the high drug prices that hospitals and their patients are facing today? Let us know in the comments below.