Summary: The pharmaceutical industry conducted a poll to elicit views from Americans about how insurance impairs access and affordability, for healthcare overall and drugs in particular. The concerns are real. The battle among health system profiteers is intriguing … will internecine struggles help us achieve real health care reform?
According to a new Ipsos/PhRMA poll, nearly 9 out of 10 Americans (86%) agree that Congress should focus on cracking down on abusive health insurance practices that make it harder for people to get the care they need. The sentiment is shared widely among both Democrats (92%) and Republicans (84%). Voters overwhelmingly support policies that would lower out-of-pocket costs and bring greater transparency and accountability to the health insurance system.
According to the Ipsos/PhRMA poll, Americans would like to see Congress focus more on reducing the overall costs of health care coverage such as premiums, deductibles, and copays (71%) over reducing the costs of prescription drugs (29%).
In the past year, 43% of people who take prescription medications have themselves or their families faced at least one insurance barrier to their care. These experiences range from waiting for an insurer to approve a medicine their doctor prescribed (prior authorization) to the insurer requiring a patient to try a different medicine (fail first), or not covering a doctor-prescribed medicine at all (formulary restriction).
82% agree that lowering out-of-pocket costs for health care should be a top priority for Washington.
Comment by: Don McCanne
High out-of-pocket health insurance costs have been of great concern to Americans, but so have high costs for prescription drugs. Solutions for both problems would be found through an efficient, equitable means of health care financing – a universal single payer system, but both the insurance industry and the pharmaceutical industry remain opposed because single payer systems place the patient first rather than directing excess funds to their own industries.
This particular release is interesting because PhRMA, representing the pharmaceutical firms, has decided to attack the insurance industry as they escape out the back door with the loot (though the insurance industry led with prior authorization, fail first, and formulary restrictions). Undoubtedly Congress is the target of this message, but we can only hope that they will hold in their hearts where the relief needs to be directed, and that, of course, is the patient. The pharmaceutical industry needs to come under control of our own public single payer, and the health insurance industry needs to be converted into public stewards serving all of us as we dismiss the private entrepreneurs who are draining the system.
It’s nice that PhRMA wants something done about insurance costs, but it is unfortunate that they dismiss the importance of reducing the cost of prescription drugs. In doing so, they have inadvertently reinforced the importance of adopting a universal, equitable, public health care financing program. But we know that Congress understands this; let’s be sure that they act upon it.