The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, coined Obamacare, brings changes to the face of healthcare. The act is a multifaceted bill that covers a number of healthcare issues, including prescription rebates and the availability of generic drugs from medication carts. Obamacare is primarily about providing everyone with affordable health insurance, but there will be some new regulations regarding prescription medication might affect cost.
Generic Drug Availability
One portion of the bill that is already in action keeps down the price of mainstream drugs. Title VII empowers the Food and Drug Administration to approve generic drugs faster.
Generic is the off brand version of a product – the difference between tissue and Kleenex, for instance. Kleenex is a brand name that consumers associate with facial tissue. Manufacturers offer the same basic product just without the brand name.
Title VII increases the competition in the drug industry to control pricing. A drug company that owns the brand name of medication can raise the price because there is no competition. If you need the medication, you will pay more to get it. By speeding up approvals for generic drugs, Obamacare is balancing the system. There will be less brand name drugs controlling the market.
The Medicare “donut hole” refers to a gap in coverage for seniors who need prescription drugs. The gap falls between the coverage limit and the catastrophic care amount. Medicare offers a rebate to subsidize prescriptions costs. Once you spend 2,700 dollars out-of-pocket for medication, the rebates stop until you spend a total of 6,154 dollars. That donut hole is out-of-pocket expenses from 2,700 to 6,154. That leaves thousands of dollars in medication expense that Medicare does not rebate.
The goal of Obamacare is to close this hole completely by 2020. This means help for seniors who have had to pay 100 percent of their medication expense once they hit the gap. The new plan offers continuous coverage to seniors, so no more donut hole
The changes that affect prescription medications work to control expenses to improve care. People who cut back on medication because they can’t afford it, stop taking life saving drugs. For example, when Medicare stops subsidizing medication, patients cut pills that have no effect on their daily functioning. Pain pills keep them moving through the day, but drugs that lower cholesterol and blood pressure are less noticeable. When the money runs out to buy from the medication carts, seniors would stop taking drugs to prevent heart attack and stroke in favor of pain medication or “feel good” pills.
The act is controversial for the other issues, but it does control the cost of prescription medication. The changes should be positive in this area.