Today healthcare is on the ballot but pharma isn’t listening

  • 62 percent of cancer patients report being in debt due to their treatment.
    55 percent accrue at least $10,000 in debt, while 3 percent file for bankruptcy.
  • Almost 700,000 people in the U.S. declare bankruptcy due medical bills.
  • American’s are sick and tired of a healthcare system that costs too much and provides too little.

Health care remains one of the most important issues in this election.   Seventy-two percent of all political ads that ran in Washington during September mentioned health care in some capacity, while 50 percent of national ads run by Democrats have used this talking point (compared to 28 percent of national Republican campaigns).

The annual cost for a family to get health coverage from an employer plan rose 5% to $19,616 this year, according to recently released data from the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation. The cost to cover an individual on a job-based plan is now $6,896, up 3% from last year.

The cost of health care continues to soar, vacuuming up a growing share of the nation’s economic output and putting an ever-larger strain on both family incomes and government budgets. (Dreamstime/TNS)

Employers cover the majority of this expense, but people end up paying for the benefit in different ways as rates continue to rise: The expense is passed along through higher cost sharing for visits and hospitalizations, and more of their compensation is coming in the form of health insurance instead of wages.

And pharma’s response?  The CEO of Pfizer said they are returning to “business as normal” which means price increases for their drugs.  At some point in time someone has to tell big pharma that the emperor has no clothes and that “business as usual” is not a sustainable model.

The Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act is going to be the a huge target for politicians.  Under this act the benefit is funded in a complex way, reflecting diverse priorities of lobbyists and constituencies.

  • It provides a subsidy for large employers to discourage them from eliminating private prescription coverage to retired workers (a key AARP goal);
  • It prohibits the federal government from negotiating discounts with drug companies;
  • It prevents the government from establishing a formulary, but does not prevent private providers such as HMOs from doing so.

This is one law that’s going to be changed.  The idea that the federal government can’t negotiate prices with pharma companies is repugnant to a majority of voters.  Recent studies have said that people who retire may need well over a million dollar nest egg to help pay medical costs and that is a HUGE wake up call.

Those pharma companies, like GSK, who are transforming their organizations to better compete in the future are going to win while those that continue to only care about investors and stock prices are going to lose.

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