Is the cost of health care services, drugs too much to bear?

Is the cost of health care services, drugs too much to bear?

Richard Wood knows how much it costs to get older: too much, in his opinion.

The amount Wood, of Galloway Township, and his wife spend on a single daily lifesaving medication amounts to several thousand dollars a year, not to mention what they pay for in Medicare health insurance coverage and other out-of-pocket medication charges.

It’s made Wood consider looking at other options. He’s in good company.

The United States spent about $10,348 per person on health care in 2016 —much more than other developed countries, according to federal health expenditure data. Comparatively, the United Kingdom spent about $4,192 per person that year.

The pharmaceutical industry contributes greatly to annual health care costs. About $11.9 billion was made in retail sales of prescription drugs in New Jersey last year, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, translating to about $1,321 per person in the state.

The heath care supply chain of insurers, providers, policy makers and drug manufacturers has not changed greatly in the past decade, but variations in price negotiations and coverage rates have frustrated people seeking answers to why it costs so much for an emergency room visit, brand-name prescription or testing procedure.

“For the last seven or eight years, there’s been a steady drumbeat telling consumers that there’s a lot of variation unrelated to quality, whether in medications or hospital prices, and consumers now are kind of getting it. They’re dissatisfied with that variation and calling out the stakeholders more,” said Katherine Hempstead, senior adviser at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Hempstead said today, people are more financially responsible for their health care, whereas in the past, people did not shoulder such a heavy portion of the costs.

“In the old days, everything cost $30 and people didn’t necessarily care, but now that they’re seeing a $1,500 deductible, they’re facing a lot of prices of things they have to pay, and they’re starting to ask a lot of questions, which is important,” she said.

It certainly has Matthew Dayton, 75, of the Dorothy section of Weymouth Township, questioning why each refill of his insulin medication costs about $1,493, of which he pays about $90 out of pocket after his private insurer covers the rest.

“Does it really cost that much to make? Do they use the rest of the money on research?” he said. “I don’t know, but my brother couldn’t afford his medication all the time and he wound up having a stroke. He’s in assisted living now.”

Despite looking at other medication, provider and insurance coverage options to decrease personal health care costs, many people are still left at the mercy of health care’s greatest players, or behind-the-scenes negotiations to which they are not privy.

Demand for better transparency and patient advocacy on drug pricing and health care cost negations by New Jersey residents, legislators and consumer groups have given people hope, they said, that the health care system will better serve their interests as consumers in the future.

Quick one this week. Our reimbursement is going down and people can’t afford our healthcare so let them pay on a flexible schedule and get paid up front.

Thanks to for their article