Rise in Prescription Costs: The Effects on Americans

In recent years, the cost of prescriptions has risen substantially. This, in part, is due to the Great Recession and the slow economic recovery. According to the U.S. Census Bureau “National Health Expenditures – Summary: 1960 to 2009,” in the realm of personal health care expenditures, expenses rose from $104.7 billion annually in 1999 to more than double – $249.9 billion – in just one decade.

Based on a study conducted in 2008 by RAND Health, “The Financial Burden from Prescription Drugs Has Declined Recently for the Nonelderly, Although It Is Still High for Many,” nearly 8 million nonelderly Americans were living in families with expensive prescription burdens. In 2008, approximately 25 percent of Americans spent more than half of their out-of-pocket health spending on prescriptions.

These statistics show that prescription costs still remain high for Americans. In an effort to combat high prescription costs, there has been an increase in the availability and popularity of generic prescriptions. However, this recent development has not eliminated the high cost of prescriptions.

Prescription spending makes up approximately 10 percent of health care spending in the U.S., but according to the latter study, individuals pay a much higher percentage of out-of-pocket expenses. These expenses are higher for low-income families with public insurance and those with chronic illnesses.

When money gets tight, people tend to sacrifice their health – and prescriptions – in order to keep necessities within financial reach. In the end, this sacrifice tends to be more damaging than the expenses of prescriptions are on financial situations.

In the latter study, “high financial burden” is described as families that spend more than 10 percent of their annual income on prescriptions. In 2008, roughly 3 percent of Americans (more than 8 million people) were dealing with high-cost prescription burdens. That same year, roughly 25 percent of Americans (approximately 67 million people) had prescription costs that consumed more than half of their annual health expenses.

While 3 percent and 25 percent may not sound like a lot, these are percentages of approximately 314 million people. Every single percent affects millions of people. When talking percentages of millions, it is a fact that a significant amount of people are being affected.

With prescription costs so high and so many people depending on these medicines, it is important to consider alternative, less expensive methods for obtaining prescriptions. While generic versions ease some of the financial stress, families that require extensive amounts of prescriptions often struggle to pay the costs of these necessities.

In a culture so dependent on money, it is difficult not to worry about prescription expenses. At some point, one must remove the monetary value he has placed on his life. There are ways to compensate for medical expenses, but there is no way to compensate for a lost life. It’s time for people remove the monetary value they have placed on their lives.

While prescriptions are expensive, they are not impossible to pay for. Various resources provide financial relief for prescription expenses. Start by simply calling your doctor or local hospital and request that they inform you about local resources.

Before giving up, search the local community – and online – for help with prescription costs. Life is worth more than the cost of prescriptions.