"[O]ut of a research sample of 4421 drug groups, 222 drug groups increased in price by 100% or more between Nov’13 and Nov’14. There are also some extreme cases (17 drug groups) where price increases of more than 1000% were seen."
Report by Elsevier – article by forbes.com
If buying pizza was like paying a hospital bill
A short video on the crazy cost of health care – very funny and very true. Published by Consumer Reports September 24, 2015
Americans are paying more out of pocket for medical care more than ever before—and being socked with surprise charges. Would you stand for that when buying anything else? Say, a pizza?
Maine has 1,329,608* reasons for universal health care.
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* Maine population estimate 2014
Maine Doctors Support Single Payer
By Julie Keller Pease, M.D.
Oct. 7, 2015 published in The Times Record (Brunswick, Maine), Letters
I was interested to read the article in Friday’s Times Record about the “Broader health care debate for 2016.” Giving prominence to “single payer” makes sense because only a single-payer plan can cover everyone for all medically necessary care, eliminate financial barriers to care, and allow free choice of doctor and hospital. Single payer healthcare would also control costs. Noted healthcare economist Dr. William Hsiao, when he visited Maine in 2010, estimated that if Maine moved to a single-payer system of health care, the state would save $1 billion during the first year alone.
Currently, the criticism of single payer (mentioned in the article) is that it would require a tax increase. In his fiscal study of H.R. 676, “The Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act,” economist Dr. Gerald Friedman estimated that 95 percent of all households would actually SAVE money. This is because any increase in taxes would be more than offset by a massive decrease in insurance premiums and out-of-pocket expenses. Further, a streamlined single-payer system would reap about $400 billion annually in savings by slashing wasteful administrative costs, the government would be able to use its negotiating clout to bargain for lower drug and medical supply prices and it would be allowed to take other proven measures to save money.
Maine doctors support single payer. In January 2014, 450 Maine physicians responded to a survey question from the Maine Medical Association: “When considering the topic of health care reform, would you prefer to make improvements to the current public/private system or a single-payer system such as a 'Medicare for all' approach'? Nearly 65 percent of Maine doctors preferred the single-payer option, a jump from about 52 percent in a 2008 MMA survey that asked the identical question.
If you’re interested in learning more about health care for all, I urge you to visit the websites of Physicians for a National Health Program (www.pnhp.org) and Maine AllCare (www.maineallcare.org). Please join us in our advocacy for health care for everyone in Maine.
Dr. Julie Keller Pease resides in Brunswick.
What Can Maine Doctors Do?
Return medicine to its healing roots — help educate and advocate for universal, single-payer health care that covers every Maine resident
- Join Maine AllCare mailing list, and volunteer to help, including supporting financially
- Join PNHP — www.pnhp.org
- Visit our websites regularly — www.maineallcare.org & www.philcaper.net for more information
- Organize and make your voices heard through the Maine Medical Association
- Doctors have lost influence during the past 30 years or so, but we are far from powerless – they don’t have much of a business without us!
- Doctors are still influential – make your views known
- Write op-eds and letters to the Editor of your local paper
- Testify in person and in writing before the relevant legislative committees when legislation affecting health care is being considered. MAC can help organize these efforts
- Organize speaking events directed at professions and lay audiences for Maine AllCare speakers
- Grand rounds
- Local and specialty medical societies
- Community forums, church groups, Rotary Clubs, Lions Clubs, Chambers of Commerce
If you have ideas about how else we might advance the cause of universal health care here in Maine, please write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and and put "Idea" in the Subject line. Thank you.
How High Is America’s Health Care Cost Burden? Findings from the Commonwealth Fund Health Care Affordability Tracking Survey
July–August 2015, The Commonwealth Fund
- Health care costs are unaffordable for 25% of privately insured working-age people
- 53% of privately insured people with low incomes have unaffordable health care costs
One-quarter of privately insured working-age adults have high health care cost burdens relative to their incomes in 2015, according to the Commonwealth Fund Health Care Affordability Index, a comprehensive measure of consumer health care costs. This figure, which is based on a nationally representative sample of people with private insurance who are mainly covered by employer plans, is statistically unchanged from 2014. When looking specifically at adults with low incomes, more than half have high cost burdens. In addition, when privately insured adults were asked how they rated their affordability, greater shares reported their premiums and deductible costs were difficult or impossible to afford than the Index would suggest. Health plan deductibles and copayments had negative effects on many people’s willingness to get needed health care or fill prescriptions. In addition, many consumers are confused about which services are free to them and which count toward their deductible.
More Americans than ever before have private health insurance, in large part because of the coverage expansions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), now in their third year.1 At the same time, as more people than ever are gaining coverage, many of those enrolled in private plans, including employer-based and ACA marketplace plans, have high deductibles and other forms of cost-sharing. These elements can place a great financial burden on individuals and families, especially those with low or moderate incomes.2
This issue brief draws from the second installment of the Commonwealth Fund Health Care Affordability Tracking Survey to measure the extent to which U.S. adults have high health care cost burdens.3 We created what we call the Commonwealth Fund Health Care Affordability Index, a composite measure that assesses the share of U.S. adults who have high premium costs, high deductibles, and/or high out-of-pocket health care costs relative to their incomes (see graphic below). In addition, we asked adults about how they perceive the affordability of their premiums, deductibles, and copayments or coinsurance. Adults also told us how their deductibles and copayments affected their health care decisions in the past year.
US pays three times more for drugs than Britain, study reveals
By Ben Hirschler/REUTERS
Published October 13, 2015 in Bangor Daily News
LONDON — U.S. prices for the world’s 20 top-selling medicines are, on average, three times higher than in Britain, according to an analysis carried out for Reuters.
The finding underscores a transatlantic gulf between the price of treatments for a range of diseases and follows demands for lower drug costs in America from industry critics such as Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
The 20 medicines, which together accounted for 15 percent of global pharmaceuticals spending in 2014, are a major source of profits for companies including AbbVie, AstraZeneca, Merck, Pfizer and Roche.
Researchers from Britain’s University of Liverpool also found U.S. prices were consistently higher than in other European markets. Elsewhere, U.S. prices were six times higher than in Brazil and 16 times higher than the average in the lowest-price country, which was usually India.
The United States, which leaves pricing to market competition, has higher drug prices than other countries where governments directly or indirectly control medicine costs.
That makes it by far the most profitable market for pharmaceutical companies, leading to complaints that Americans are effectively subsidizing health systems elsewhere.
Manufacturers say decent returns are needed to reward high-risk research and prices reflect the economic value provided by medicines. They also point to higher U.S. survival rates for diseases such as cancer and the availability of industry-backed access schemes for poorer citizens.
In recent years, the price differential has been exacerbated by above-inflation annual increases in U.S. drug prices at a time when governments in Europe have capped costs or even pushed prices down.
In fact, U.S. prices for top brand-name drugs jumped 127 percent between 2008 and 2014, compared with an 11 percent rise in a basket of common household goods, according to Express Scripts, the largest U.S. manager of drug plans.
In Europe, meanwhile, the impact of austerity on health budgets since the financial crisis has led industry executives to complain of single-digit percentage annual price declines.
The U.S. Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America says international comparisons are misleading because list prices do not take into account discounts available as a result of “aggressive negotiation” by U.S. insurers.
These discounts can drive down the actual price paid by U.S. insurance companies substantially. However, similar confidential discounts are also offered to big European buyers such as Britain’s National Health Service.
“The U.S. has a competitive marketplace that works to control costs while encouraging the development of new treatments and cures,” Holly Campbell, PhRMA’s director of communications, said in a statement.
PhRMA also argues that while Americans may pay more for drugs when they first come out, they pay less as drugs get older, since nearly 90 percent of all medicines prescribed to U.S. patients are now cheap generics.
In Britain, generics account for just over three-quarters of prescriptions and that level is lower in other parts of Europe.
Still, the United States is slower to see the arrival of generic competition to some top-selling drugs, which explains some of the differences in pricing for certain medicines on the top-20 list.
Overall, the analysis found that price differentials were slightly smaller for complex antibody-based drugs, which are used to treat conditions like cancer and rheumatoid arthritis.
Many of the biggest differences were evident for older drugs, reflecting the fact that prices are typically hiked each year in the United States, said University of Liverpool drug pricing expert Andrew Hill.
“It shows the U.S. drug pricing situation isn’t just a matter of isolated cases like Turing Pharmaceuticals,” he said.
The latest furor over U.S. drug costs was prompted by the decision by unlisted Turing to hike the cost of an old drug against a parasitic infection to $750 a pill from $13.50. It has since promised to roll back the increase.
The same medicine is sold in Britain by GlaxoSmithKline for 66 cents.