Inquiry into health care costs that are too high / Public news service

Supporters of a bill currently in the US Senate have claimed it will address rising health care costs and could bring some relief to Americans.

Part of the Inflation Reduction Act would allow Medicare to directly negotiate prescription drug prices in 2023 and cap drug costs for Medicare patients at $2,000 per year. It comes a month after Governor Ned Lamont extended the state’s Connecticut Covered Program to adults without children.

Jim Manley, board member of Consumers for Quality Care, noted that the increase in out-of-pocket costs is a major concern.

“The problem comes down to copayment caps, increased deductibles, and prescription drug copayments,” Manley explained. “Caps on copays are largely absent from the current health care bill that the Senate will be considering this week. And so, that has resulted in higher and higher costs for more and more Americans.”

In the group’s new survey, 45% of Americans said their out-of-pocket spending is way too high and more than 70% believe healthcare costs are rising “far more than the other things they need”. The Urban Institute said one in 10 people in Connecticut, and 13% of all Americans, have outstanding medical debt.

Manley believes that while the issue is important, it will not be a dominant factor in November’s midterm elections. However, he thinks a change is needed. In the survey, 60% of people said they skipped or delayed medical treatment because it was too expensive.

“Health insurers have passed the costs on to patients through higher deductibles and out-of-pocket fees,” Manley pointed out. “This has proven to be a real problem for the American consumer. It causes them to either ignore care and/or incur medical debt. Medical debt is increasingly rampant across the country.”

For now, the Affordable Care Act outlines reimbursable caps, but Manley thinks they should be updated. His group also supports a cap on the price of insulin, which a 2020 study found is much higher in the United States than in most countries.

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