Medical advances have offered an increasing number of treatment options to patients with serious and chronic illnesses such as cancer, but these “specialty drugs” often come with a high price tag. A study by researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania documents the patient out-of-pocket cost burden under Medicare prescription drug plans (known as Medicare Part D) and finds that despite having insurance, Medicare patients using specialty drugs paid thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket costs in a calendar year. Study authors also propose policy changes that would help patients better predict monthly bills for critical medications. The study appears online in a special issue of The American Journal of Managed Care and was selected as the runner-up in the 2016 PAN Challenge, which asked researchers to offer “sustainable strategies for providing access to critical medications.”
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