Jun 7, 2019 - Health

Drug pricing's "double whammy" for patients with chronic illnesses

Rising deductibles paired with the rising cost of medications for chronic conditions has left middle-income Americans saddled with debt and skipping out on their treatment, the L.A. Times reports.

Why it matters: Care for conditions like cancer, diabetes and epilepsy— which require regular treatment, including drugs— are costing the insured thousands of dollars a year, a major shift from when deductibles were lower or nonexistent.

  • "That has made being sick in the U.S. dramatically more expensive," the Time's Noam Levey writes.

For example: One recent study found that in 2016, people taking multiple sclerosis drugs paid, on average, $3,708 in out-of-pocket costs for the drugs each year. The cost for patients with high deductible plans was, on average, almost $8,000 a year.

  • But 15 years ago, the average out-of-pocket cost for these drugs was $244.

The bottom line: When patients ration their own care to try to save money, it puts their health — and even their lives — at risk.

Go deeper: How chronic conditions drive up health spending

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