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Prescription drugs play a vital role in the U.S. healthcare system, enabling Americans to live longer, higher-quality lives. However, the growing cost of those drugs presents a significant challenge to the quality and affordability of healthcare in the United States.
U.S. spending on prescription drugs has risen substantially in the past 20 years, climbing from about $88 billion in 1998 to $335 billion in 2018. Furthermore, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services project that such spending will continue to grow, rising to $560 billion by 2028 — an increase of 67 percent.
That rise in spending can be attributed to many factors, including the number and type of drugs prescribed. Some common reasons include:
While prescription drugs can help improve health outcomes in the United States, the rising cost of those drugs can place a financial strain on American families and the country’s fiscal health. The coronavirus pandemic, and its effect on individual income and the country’s economic outlook, could exacerbate this challenge. Moving forward, containing prescription drug costs will be a vital issue as our country recovers from the pandemic and turns its attention towards addressing the long-term fiscal challenge.
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