About six years ago at a meeting in DC, I was in a crowded room listening to a panel sponsored by a very large and , among liberal groups , respected organization, talk about healthcare costs.
The Panel included a Ph.D. in healthcare economics. When the QA period came around, I asked her if she could provide any information about what the beneficial impact (overall) of lowering costs might be if Americans had access to safe, affordable medicines including via personal importation.
After she finished laughing at me, (apparently wanting to show their support and that they were not be mistaken to be , as I obviously was, a part of the great body of unwashed and ignorant people from outside The Beltway, the rest of the room joined in ) she brushed me off saying she just couldn’t see how lower medicine costs could be beneficial because of the enormity of the problem of what causes medical costs to rise, an issue which she noted I obviously didn’t understand.
I suggested that perhaps if people had access to lower-cost medicines there might be enhancement of the health and well-being of the patients taking the meds meaning that they could avoid future procedures, methods that would be more costly. The moderator then stepped in and asked for the next question. Today I feel validated by the following article Part D saved Medicare money, study finds
I believe my point was validated by the story since it seems to me that the same case can be made for those who, were it not for personal importation, would be denied the health benefits of a regimen made possible through access to safe, affordable medicines . And, by extension, if those who are denied the health benefits of access to a regimen of safe, affordable brand-name prescription medicines were able to afford their medicines, they would avoid later, more expensive and possibly life-threatening medical complications.
But, this will require a new appreciation of the importance of dealing with specifics of issues, avoiding the broad, sweeping—and largely theoretical and esoteric discussions that while providing intellectual satisfaction to those who claim superior knowledge because of their academic credentials do not consider issues from the perspective of everyday Americans. The story follows (highlighted areas are mine):
Spending more money on drug therapies actually can be thrifty, at least for Medicare patients. That's the conclusion of a new study by Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital. As the Boston Business Journal reports, the researchers found that Medicare Part D, which subsidized drug purchases, led to lower costs for non-drug care.
Published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the study compared medical spending on non-drug treatment both before and after Medicare Part D was implemented in 2006. Researchers used data from 2004 to 2007 on Medicare recipients who had limited drug coverage before Part D and on those who already had drug coverage when the new program came into force.
The researchers found that Part D cut other healthcare spending by about 10% per patient, or $1,200, for the group who had little drug coverage before the program. Costly inpatient care appeared to be reduced the most, while more cost-effective outpatient care wasn't affected as much. That's how drug treatment is supposed to work, of course, but this study offers dollar signs as hard evidence.
The Part D data ought to inspire Medicare to look at better integration of care, the researchers said. "These reductions in non-drug spending suggest Part D has not cost Medicare as much as initially expected," study author J. Michael McWilliams, a Harvard Medical School professor, said in a statement (as quoted by the BBJ). "This study exemplifies how spending on one type of service can affect spending on other types of care, which suggests that greater coordination and integration could lead to...higher value healthcare for elderly Americans."