Spending on prescription drugs continues to be one of the biggest drivers pushing health care costs upward.
Specialty drugs get a lot of attention when it comes to higher costs, although price increases are occurring across the board. Specialty drug prices are projected to increase 18.7 percent next year (after growing 18.9 percent in 2016). Although they comprise less than 1 percent of prescriptions, specialty drugs account for 35 percent of the prescription drug price trend, according to HR Consultancy Segal.
Meanwhile, the overall cost of all drugs prescribed for employees under age 65 is expected to grow 11.6 percent next year, on top of an 11.3 percent hike this year.
That’s a big jump that affects most Americans. Nearly half of Americans have taken at least one prescription drug in the past month, and one in five uses three or more, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Just 10 drugs comprised more than 20 percent of the 4.4 billion drug prescriptions given to Americans last year, according to a an April report from IMS Health. The report found that Americans have an average out-of-pocket cost of $44 per brand name prescription drug, up 22 percent from the previous year.
That adds up to an annual bill of more than $500 for a consumer filling just one brand name prescription drug each month. For families where multiple people take multiple prescriptions, that can quickly add up to thousands of dollars.