Study: Seniors face insurance disparity

June 1, 2000

Pharmaceutical Representative

President Clinton released the results of a Department of Health and Human Services study showing that seniors without drug coverage lack insurance against high costs and lack access to discounts and rebates that insured people receive.

President Clinton released the results of a Department of Health and Human Services study showing that seniors without drug coverage lack insurance against high costs and lack access to discounts and rebates that insured people receive.

The report also found that older Americans and people with disabilities without drug coverage typically pay 15% more than insurers who negotiate price discounts for the same prescription drugs.

Other findings of the report include:


•Â The gap between drug prices for people with and without insurance discounts increased from 8% to 15% between 1996 and 1999.


•Â Between 1993 and 1998, nationwide spending for prescription drugs increased at an annual rate of 12% compared to about 5% for all other types of health spending.


•Â The percent of Medicare beneficiaries without drug coverage who report not being able to afford a needed drug is about five times higher than those with coverage.


•Â Uncovered Medicare beneficiaries purchase one-third fewer drugs but pay nearly twice as much out of pocket.

The president said that, though the report was comprehensive, the government would be investigating the issue further. "Although the HHS report provides the most comprehensive analysis to date on prescription drugs, there is still much that needs to be learned and conveyed to the general public and to policymakers on this important issue," President Clinton said. "For this reason, I am also announcing that the administration will hold a national conference this summer on drug pricing and discounting practices and their impact on Medicare beneficiaries and pharmaceutical innovation."

Clinton used the release as an opportunity to promote his Medicare prescription drug plan. "The Department of Health and Human Services' report on prescription drug coverage, spending and pricing practices provides further evidence of the need for a voluntary, affordable Medicare prescription drug benefit that is available to all beneficiaries," the president said. "This report makes clear that uninsured seniors not only lack prescription drug coverage, but also are denied the significant discounts and rebates that those with coverage receive." PR

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