Can the health system make itself better?
Double- and triple-digit increases are far too common for prescription drugs, and many North Carolinians are feeling the brunt of these soaring costs.1,2,3
Prescription medicines play a critical role in helping prevent, manage and cure conditions and diseases. But drugs are becoming increasingly unaffordable. Nationwide, prescription spending by Blue Cross Blue Shield health insurance members rose 73 percent from 2010-2017.4
Why are costs so high?
A few of the reasons: The US pays more than virtually all other countries for the same prescription drugs. That’s because drugmakers in the U.S. can essentially set their own prices.5 What’s more, many drugmakers increase prices year after year so they can maximize profits before the drugs’ patents—protection from competition—expire.6 Indeed, the upward trend for Blue Cross and Blue Shield members was largely due to a small number of newer, branded drugs for chronic diseases and large year-over-year price increases.
Take the drug Humira, used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and other conditions. Humira’s manufacturer has ratcheted up prices 12 times between 2012 and 2017—an increase of 248 percent.7 And the price for a lifesaving EpiPen® increased by 400 percent from 2008 to 2016.8 These costs get passed on to all of us in the form of higher insurance premiums. Learn more about these skyrocketing drug costs, and how they affect North Carolinians.