Darrell Berkheimer: A way to lower drug costs
Have you noticed all the advertising for pills and other drugs that are on the television channels day and night?
Of course you have. They seem to be on the TV constantly.
It appears impossible to have the TV on for more than an hour or two without hearing and seeing advertisements about how some fantastic pill or drug will improve your life.
Those advertisements cost millions of dollars daily. And who do you think pays for those ads?
Those ads push up the prices you pay for the drugs you need.
One way to reduce the costs of many drugs — if not all of them — is to place a similar restriction on drug companies that is now applied to insurance companies by the Affordable Care Act.
It is an exceptionally good regulation in Obamacare that gets much less attention than it deserves. And many folks don’t realize the money it has saved them in their premiums.
It restricts insurance companies from using more than 15 to 20 percent of their income for profits and administration, including marketing. The regulation sets a 15 percent restriction for large group insurers, and 20 percent limit for individual and small insurer groups. Because certain insurance companies exceeded those limits after Obamacare became law, that regulation required the return of $1.1 billion in rebates to 13 million policyholders in 2012. Another 8.5 million Americans received $500 million in insurance rebates in 2013.
The critics of the Affordable Care Act have been quite vocal about temporary problems with the act. But they elected to ignore the permanent benefits Americans will realize year after year simply because of that one regulation alone.
We can only imagine how much more Americans might save on health care if similar restrictions on profits, administration and marketing were placed on the pharmaceuticals industry.
Such restrictions are long overdue.
Darrell Berkheimer lives in Grass Valley.
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