Senior Prescription Drug Research

While only 15 percent of the U.S. population is considered elderly, this group consumes one-third of all medications prescribed each year.

A friend of mine told me that 96% of seniors felt that prescription drug issues were not a major concern. Here is my research to rebut that statement.

If anything it appears that 96-100% of seniors list prescription drugs as their *top* issue right now. From the AARP site:

Prescription Drug Issues

"With one in four seniors skipping medications [due to not enough money to buy it], lack of drug coverage is more than a financial burden-it's a health risk for seniors," said Drew Altman, Ph.D., president and CEO of the Kaiser Family Foundation.

A new survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation and Harvard School of Public Health finds that a majority of seniors (54%) want Congress to enact legislation this year to add a prescription drug benefit to Medicare. However, more than three quarters (76%) of seniors are worried, including 52% who are �very worried,� that they will still pay too large a share of their drug bills if legislation becomes law. Worries that the benefit will not be generous enough eclipse all other concerns by a wide margin (18-27 percentage points difference in the percent very worried).

Every news report I find indicates this is a huge issue for seniors, that they desperately want / need help paying for their drugs. As in CNN's report below -

Senior Issues Report


The American Association of Retired Persons, which has mounted its largest ever nonpartisan voter-education initiative for this presidential election, reached the same conclusion when it polled its members nationwide last year.

The organization found that Medicare, long-term care and patient protection in managed care were three of the four most important election issues to its members. The fourth was Social Security.

As Fowler sees it, the long-term health care issues that always have been on the minds of older voters are now being joined by more immediate concerns, such as the skyrocketing costs of prescription drugs.

These price pressures are what Elaine Kulingoski, 63, a Democrat from Nashua, talked about when asked what she is looking for in a president.

"Somebody needs to put a ceiling on the prices of prescription drugs," she says. "I've called four or five pharmacies around town to get their prices on my prescriptions and found a $30 or $40 difference on what they charge for some drugs."

Many others told their own stories, often rattling off their monthly out-of-pocket prescription expenses more readily than their ages.

Although prescription-drug frustrations like these were on the minds of virtually everyone interviewed for this article, the evidence of the problem extends beyond anecdotes.

A Washington Post poll asked readers what we taxpayers should pay for. "64 percent say Medicare should cover drugs for all seniors; 21 percent favor the Bush suggestion of managed-care coverage only." I imagine the rest said we shouldn't pay :) So the majority of the readers said we *should* fund this for seniors.

I would imagine personally that paying for their drugs is probably cheaper than paying for their resulting emergency health care, which we taxpayers would undoubtedly foot the bill for ...

Top 5 Senior Prescriptions in Jan 2004
Lipitor, used to lower cholesterol, rose 5.5 times inflation.
Plavix, used to prevent blood clots, rose 5.3 times inflation.
Fosamax, used to treat patients with osteoporosis, rose 4.6 times inflation.
Norvasc, used to treat high blood pressure, rose 6.6 times inflation.
Celebrex, used to treat arthritis and joint pain, rose 5.4 times inflation.

Speaking of 96%, the only mention I found on the web of 96% was in reference to the new Prescription Drug bill - the site reports "legislation would expand that number so that nearly 96 percent of all seniors would qualify for some type of prescription drug benefit. "

The discussion with my friend turned into a "well it costs a lot but they can afford it" discussion, which I went on to address on my Senior Citizens and Income discussion.

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