One factor in the rising cost of health care, and therefore of health insurance premiums, is the rapid escalation of prescription drug prices. Some existing medications have seen price increases of several hundred percent over a few months or years. Many new drugs are priced much higher than the costs of development, testing and bringing them to market. Protected by patents, and promoted by advertising, drug companies charge whatever the market will bear. The pharmaceutical industry is one of the most profitable in our economy.
But these escalating prices are paid for by the patients who need these treatments and by the insurance companies and government agencies who pay the bills. President Trump raised this issue in a meeting with pharmaceutical CEOs. Other politicians, congressional committees and health care experts have also raised the alarm. Since drug companies can’t resist using all the “tricks of the trade” to raise prices and profits, only our government can bring some rationality and fairness into the system. But so far, it’s all talk and no action.
One simple first step toward addressing this problem would be for Congress to change the strange law that forbids Medicare to negotiate prices with drug companies. Private insurance companies, the Veteran’s Administration and most governments around the world negotiate prices. Medicare should also. Tell your representatives and senators to act now to let fairness, competition and market forces, rather than monopolistic practices, set the prices of our prescription drugs.