Many times patients ask me the question when I am prescribing them medications they need ,Doc, how much does this medicine cost and is it covered by my insurance plan or not? Is there a generic version of this medication? How much is my out of pocket cost even with insurance coverage? It is clear that if the patient can not afford to get the prescribed medications, then his or her medical condition will worsen and will in most cases when medications are denied, will end up being admitted to the hospital as it is the only place left for patient to get the medication they need at high cost which could simply be avoided by making the medications affordable and accessible.
Recently, there was a Bill introduced to deny the deductions for all advertising and promotional expenses for prescription pharmaceuticals which many spend on Direct to Consumer advertising ( Radio, TV,Newspaper, Internet..etc). while consumers pay ( very high prices) while the drug makers are getting tax breaks on their drug ads have resulted in a consumer outcry.
The American Medical Association has called for a ban on drug ads as they put so much pressure on physicians to prescribe very expensive medications to make patients happy however most of these drugs have been found to be mostly unnecessary. There were about 3.6 billion dollars spent on advertising in the first half of 2015 by drug makers!
In our Concierge Medicine Program , we have most of the generic medications at only $3 .00 and some other medications are being dispensed free as well.This is to help patients eat, pay bills and prevent them from getting devastated and stressed out then get sick and become depressed which leads to more stress with accumulation of mountains of bills.
Just to give you examples of a blood thinner medication given to patients with a common heart rhythm ( non-valvular atrial fibrillation) which can lead to stokes without the blood thinner.Usually , the better tolerated medication is denied on first and second attempt for pre-authorization because of high price. It happens that way the patient finally gets it approved the patient had GI bleeding that required costly hospitalization!
It will not help drug makers to continue to raise the prices as more and more patients can not afford to pay for them thus become sick and go to hospital with costly devastating events like acute stroke or heart attack, control of pain due to cancer or spread of disease which could be kept under check with taking the proper medications. This will obviate the need of having micro sensors placed in the medication capsule to record when the patient took the medicine to monitor compliance of medication intake , which will lead to a favorable impact on cutting cost of hospital readmission and related procedures as it relates to compliance of medication intake.
Unfortunately, patients are stuck in the middle as on one hand they can not afford to buy their necessary medications during tough economy and on the other hand they can not afford to not take their needed medications to get well and stay well!