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Kaiser releases new healthcare poll

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HARTFORD – There is a new poll out, and this one has nothing to do directly with Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump.

It is about the healthcare system. The Kaiser Family Foundation just released their new health tracking poll, that was conducted in September.

Dr. Michael White of the UConn School of Pharmacy breaks it down:

This poll included 1,200 adults over 18 years in the United States.  The two biggest findings are that people are upset over the price of prescription drugs and a majority of people support having something done about it.  Let’s break down the numbers on prescription drugs first.   Seventy-seven percent of Americans think that the costs of prescription drugs are unreasonable compared to 72% a year ago.  Of those people taking a prescription drug, only around 20% of those reporting good health or those on 3 or fewer prescriptions have a difficult time affording prescription drugs but this jumps to 36-42% of people in poorer health or those taking 4 or more prescriptions.  This makes sense because a debilitating disease or multiple diseases in the same person requires more expensive and a larger number of drugs.  Over 75% of respondents said they favored requiring drug companies to be more transparent at how they derive their prices, allowing Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services to negotiate drug prices like private insurers do, and limiting the maximum amount that can be charged for a prescription drug.  Other potential remedies such as creating a body to oversee and regulate drug prices and importing drugs from oversees are also options supported by over 2/3 of Americans.  They were split over the value of stopping direct to consumer advertising and having patients pay more out of pocket for more expensive drugs.

With evidence of price gouging in the news and prescription drug costs that are rising rapidly and requiring a greater patient contribution for the cost, it is not surprising that people are upset.  I am not surprised that people are opposed to having them personally bear a larger portion of the financial burden when a very expensive drug is needed.  However, in a capitalistic healthcare system, this is an effective strategy in making people settle for other less costly options or to be willing to try those options first.  What surprised me is that 2/3rds of people would support setting up a body that would determine the maximum amount that could be charged for a prescription drug and even for diseases like Hepatitis C and Cancer.  Many countries do this around the world and while it controls their countries drug spending, it delays the time from drug approval until it can be used by patients and some effective drugs are considered too costly and will not be paid for.  Looking at the ghosts of elections past, these groups that set drug price limits in other countries were called death squads and were greatly maligned but have served to maintain the financial solvency of their countries since that time.  The other surprising thing is that people were split over whether to allow direct to consumer advertising.  Only the US and New Zealand allow this because it creates a demand for a brand product that may or may not be the best option for the patient and increases overall prescription drug costs.