Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Are More Drugs for Seniors Better?

Some think so. After all, more seniors can afford their medicine when ol' Uncle Sam helps pick up the tab.

But we are left to ponder how much our economy can continue to sustain these increased costs for healthcare in America. Once again, the short term "relief" for seniors has to be weighed against the ever-increasing national debt for our younger generation. "If it's free, it's for me" should not be our motto when it comes to healthcare. After all, the costs still exist and we'll all have to pay, some way, eventually. One only needs to look at the alarming number of our young and well-educated who leave college without insurance with no hope of entering into a workforce willing to pick up their healthcare tab because of its expense, and the high cost of individual policies, to understand the implications of this "free" or "low-cost" alternative. Direct-to-consumer advertising, too, raises the cost of drugs astronomically, with a recent PLoS article (h/t: Schwitzer Health News Blog) demonstrating that pharmaceutical marketing costs now exceed the budgets for new drug research and development.

So although the article "fell short" because it did not assess the impact of the lower use rates by seniors regarding health outcomes as a result of their ability to afford their medications, we cannot ignore the obvious larger public health implications of these government subsidies.


1 comment:

The Happy Hospitalist said...

I contend that FREE=MORE will always be a universal truth and giving subsidies to everyone regardless of need or ability to pay will always result in over utilization of services. Needed or unneeded.

In the end, those that really need the help will suffer as the money dries up.