Rising drug costs squeezing Medicare recipients, taxpayers

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Rising drug costs squeezing Medicare recipients, taxpayers

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Pharmacist Phil Pauvlinch works at the Equitas Health Pharmacy in Dayton, formerly AIDS Resource Center Ohio. Hepatitis C and HIV patients who get pharmacy benefits through Medicare Part D are being hit hard by rising out-of-pocket costs. KATIE WEDELL/STAFF

High-priced prescription drugs are driving up the cost of Medicare Part D catastrophic coverage, which is bad news for both patients and taxpayers, according to a new report from the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General.

Patients on specialty drugs are seeing higher out-of-pocket costs because of inflated list prices that accelerate their move into a coverage gap known as the “donut hole,” the report says.

One group particularly hard-hit are patients with Hepatitis C, a disease that impacts an estimated 3.2 million people in the United States.

High out-of-pocket costs and insurance companies’ unwillingness to cover Hepatitis C drugs is leading to many patients going untreated, infecting others and increasing the epidemic, said Phil Pauvlinch, pharmacist at Equitas Health, formerly AIDS Resource Center Ohio.

The government’s spending is only going to grow as three out of four Hepatitis C patients are baby boomers who are aging into eligibility for Medicare Part D.

More from investigation into prescription drug prices:

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