By Patrick McKercher, RPh, PhD, PAN Foundation President
Washington, D.C., June 28, 2012: Ours is a nation that has prospered because of its commitment to open and free markets. We have long debated and worried about the costs of our health care system and how the system might be better managed. The challenge has been to preserve an economic environment that nurtures innovation and medical discoveries, while reining in escalating health care costs.
In order to combat these increasing costs, charitable co-pay foundations such as PAN evolved over the last decade in response to the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003. Their purpose was and still is to provide grants to the underinsured, making access to progressive and often expensive treatments a reality.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act announcement from the Supreme Court today makes our mission more important than ever. The Court’s affirmation of a national health care system is significant and continues changing many elements of health care delivery in this nation. But it does not change projections about which we here at PAN already knew.
The decision shines a light on several growing issues, including:
- With the addition of millions to the insured population comes a likely increase in the number of underinsured patients as consumers seek low-premium plans.
- The continued reliance on characteristics of the private market, such as cost sharing, will increase the burden for underinsured patients.
- There will soon be limitations on cost sharing but no elimination of the practice.
- Research shows that the underinsured population tends to be less affluent and more heavily burdened with cost sharing.
- PAN will continue to be available to patients facing the unique challenges associated with cost sharing. We expect to award 50,000 grants in 2012 alone to patients who fall in the heavily burdened segment of the patient population.
There is no question that the Affordable Care Act changes how we think about cost sharing and expands the population of patients likely to need our support. This is a challenging time to be part of the health care industry and we look forward to the new complexities the Court’s decision brings to PAN.
To learn more about PAN's mission and America's underinsured, please visit www.PANfoundation.org.