Most Americans Worry About Drug Price Increases in Pandemic Aftermath
Pharmacists shouldn’t be surprised if they get even more anxious questions than usual about cost when they fill prescriptions. A new survey suggests that most American adults are concerned about rising medication prices in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are more details.
WASHINGTON, DC – Will pharmaceutical companies use the COVID-19 pandemic as justification to raise drug prices? Most adults in the United States believe that is likely to occur.
A recent poll found that nearly 9 in 10 U.S. adults are "very" (55%) or "somewhat" (33%) concerned that the pharmaceutical industry will leverage the COVID-19 pandemic to raise drug prices.
At the same time, 84% said they are very or somewhat concerned that the general cost of care will rise, and 79% are very or somewhat concerned their health insurance premiums will go up in response to the pandemic.
Those results are from a nationally representative survey of 1,016 U.S. adults commission by the nonprofit West Health and Gallup as part of ongoing research on the rising cost of healthcare in the United States.
While concerns about rising insurance premiums and healthcare costs varied by demographic subgroup, fear of rising drug prices was almost universal, occurring among most Americans, regardless of gender, race, income or political identity.
Here are some key findings:
- 57% of women said they are very concerned about rising drug prices, compared with 52% of men.
- Democrats (66%) are more likely to say they are very concerned about rising drug prices than are independents (52%) or Republicans (49%).
- Nearly half of women (48%) are very concerned about the general cost of care rising, compared with 33% of men.
- 50% of nonwhites are very concerned about the general cost of care rising, compared with 36% of whites.
- 46% of women are very concerned about rising insurance premiums, compared with 37% of men.
- 47% of nonwhites are very concerned about rising insurance premiums, compared with 38% of whites.
- 49% of households making less than $40,000 a year are very concerned about rising insurance premiums, compared with 37% of those making between $40,000 and $100,000. However, those making more than $100,000 a year express greater concern (41%).
"Concerns loom large that when the pandemic is all over, Big Pharma and insurance companies will revert to old patterns and behaviors and continue to squeeze Americans with ever-higher drug prices and insurance premiums," said Tim Lash, chief strategy officer for West Health. "If history is any guide, these concerns are well-founded, which is why promises to rein in prices are not enough. We need to retool our healthcare system and enact smart legislation now."
The survey determined that most Americans support proposals for the federal government to directly negotiate the price of a treatment for the disease with drug manufacturers – 88% overall, including 91% of those identifying as Democrats and 87% of those identifying as independents and 89% of those identifying as Republicans.