Prescription drug prices rose nearly 40% over last decade, surpassing inflation rate, tracker shows

The data from GoodRx showed patients are having increased difficulty navigating insurance hurdles, including increased costs and more restrictions on covered drugs.
Posted at 6:46 PM, Jun 28, 2024

The cost of prescription drugs in the U.S. has risen 37% in the last decade, pushing past the rate of inflation and leaving Americans struggling to afford their medications, newly released tracking data shows.

This year's tally from GoodRx's data does show a slowing of the medication price spikes seen since 2014, with the highest being a rise of 39% in early 2023. But the drug savings company says the impact is lasting, and many Americans are increasingly being caught in a "Big Pinch."

GoodRx describes this phenomenon as the current reality facing most Americans, who are shouldering more of their drug costs as insurance companies cover fewer prescriptions — including in Medicare plans — and add restrictions to routine drugs that once were included in their policies.

Before 2010, the GoodRx data shows more than 70% of medications were covered by insurance and about 25% were restricted in some way. Now the two are almost in parity, with medications covered at 54% and medications with restrictions at 50% in 2024.

And with less coverage comes higher out-of-pocket costs. On average, GoodRx found Americans spend $16.26 out-of-pocket per prescription. 24% of people are spending more than $50 monthly and 10% are spending more than $100.

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These cost burdens are forcing Americans to choose between leaving their prescriptions unfilled or forking out the extra dollars to get their medications. GoodRx's data shows 32% of Americans, or roughly 51 million people, have left prescriptions at the pharmacy because they were too expensive.

In addition to fewer covered medications and larger restrictions on covered drugs, GoodRx says patients are also seeing higher copays, coinsurance and deductibles. For just deductibles, GoodRx says the average cost has nearly doubled, from $917 in 2014 to $1,644.

"The lack of significant price decreases, coupled with poorer insurance coverage, has profound implications for patients," GoodRx writes in its report. "Many people are experiencing the financial strain of paying out of pocket for their medications, especially as insurance plans cover fewer drugs and impose stricter conditions on the medications they do cover. This situation results in rising out-of-pocket costs, medication nonadherence, delayed care, poor health and inequitable access to healthcare."

GoodRx said its findings show the continued efforts from lawmakers and pharmaceutical manufacturers to reduce medication barriers haven't been enough.

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The same day the company released its data, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced lower prices on 64 drugs for some Medicare beneficiaries. The agency said the move was made possible under President Biden's Inflation Reduction Plan, which requires drugmakers to pay rebates to Medicare if their prices for certain drugs increases faster than the rate of inflation.