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Homework answers / question archive / The amount Americans spend on prescription drugs has nearly doubled since the 1990s, meaning the United States spends the most of any high-income nation

The amount Americans spend on prescription drugs has nearly doubled since the 1990s, meaning the United States spends the most of any high-income nation

Health Science

The amount Americans spend on prescription drugs has nearly doubled since the 1990s, meaning the United States spends the most of any high-income nation. Americans didn't always spend the most. In the 1980s, several countries spent about the same amount per capita as the U.S. The U.S. healthcare spending grew faster in the 1990s. According to the Common Fund (2017), this was partially because several expensive specialty drugs came to market .The drug companies set the price in the United States, unlike in Europe, which has price controls. Americans often pay substantially more for the same drug than people in other countries do.

Recently, lawmakers have questioned the pricing structure of pharmaceuticals, especially when EpiPen reached a price of $300 per dose and top executives in the drug companies were given bonuses. Then CVS, a large pharmacy, announced they were going to purchase AETNA, a large insurer. Headlines such as these have caused the public to question the transparency of the pharmaceutical Industry.

Report on the factors that contribute to the growth in medications

Include the following aspects in the discussion:

  • Find a scholarly article on the costs of medications
  • Explore whether pharmaceuticals should be regulated
  • Discuss the impact of medication costs for the uninsured
  • Consider actions that could be taken to reduce medication costs

Part 2

Each week, you will be asked to respond to the prompt or prompts in the discussion forum. Your initial post should be 75-150 words in length, and is due on Sunday. By Tuesday, you should respond to two additional posts from your peers. 

Copays and deductibles

When I complete my yearly health benefit enrollment I am asked if I consume nicotine. If I have been "nicotine free" for 12 months I receive lower costs for my health insurance. This is similar to so-called "sin" taxes. The states and federal government levy taxes as a disincentive for consumers to engage in those activities deemed a health risk: tobacco products, alcohol, junk food, sugary drinks. Other countries, such as Australia have taken this a step further with MDs beginning to refuse to do elective surgeries for those illnesses related to these risky behaviors. A patient that needs, for instance, a femoral popliteal bypass (clogged artery in the leg) as a result of smoking, and for whom it was not an emergency, might be refused the surgery until they stop smoking.

Consider this scenario: You are the manager of a small business. One of your responsibilities is to oversee the health care plan for 10 employees. In examining last year’s costs you note that the smokers in the group averaged 20% higher health care related costs than the nonsmokers. However, the employee diagnosed with cancer had higher costs than the other nine together. You must make a change to break even. Your options are:

  1. Raise weekly fees, deductibles, and copays for all 10 employees
  2. Raise weekly fees, deductibles, and copays for just the smokers and cancer patient (who never smoked)
  3. Raise weekly fees, deductibles, and copays for the smokers but not the cancer patient
  4. Lower the quality of the plan for all employees to maintain the same costs
  5. Raise premiums for all but offer lower deductibles and co-pays for nonsmokers and those who quit smoking

Customize your health care plan costs for your employees

Include the following aspects in the discussion:

  • Describe your thought process as you work through each option
  • Did  what is moral or ethical play a role in your decision
  • Discuss the role of punishing behaviors that can hurt health vs the role of encouraging healthful behaviors by offering incentives such as lower premiums

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