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March 8, 2016 Government Report Warns of Looming Drug Price Increases

With the 2016 elections well under way, many older adults are wondering how the candidates will shape the future of Medicare, Social Security, and other programs that help seniors. And while the future of health care in America may not be certain, one definitely is going to change – drug prices.

The 2016 report

On March 8, 2016, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) released a report titled Observations on Trends in Prescription Drug Spending. This report outlines several major findings that affect the price of prescription medication. Among several key findings, the Department found that in 2015 alone, Americans spent roughly $457 billion on prescription drugs. This represents almost 17 percent of all health care-related spending, according the Department’s findings. The key highlight of the report is the Department’s prediction that between 2013 and 2018, we will see an increase in total prescription drug spending of upwards of 7.3 percent annually. Therefore, seniors who rely on regular prescription drugs may see a steep rise in their bottom line, and in turn, their overall cost of healthcare.

Planning for rising health care costs

Seniors who are entering retirement or beginning to suffer more long-term illnesses that require regular medication may now be feeling the increases, especially those younger seniors who are thus far ineligible for Medicare and do not meet the income and asset requirements for Medicaid. Private insurance for these individuals is expected to increase, in particular the cost of name brand formulary drugs. Many ailments are treated with brand name drugs only, which happen to be the sector of drug cost with the highest increases, according to DHHS.

Who needs help planning for rising health care costs?

Many seniors find that they are living longer into their golden years than expected. These individuals may need more benefits than what Medicare can provide, such as long-term care. Even private long-term care insurance policies generally are limited in the amount they will pay and for how long they will offer benefits. Sadly, many younger seniors suffer from serious illnesses, such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease, all of which often require aggressive medication therapy. While Medicare covers many of these expenses, long-term hospitalizations, nursing home placement, and possibly even hospice care could be a real possibility.

Elder law planning for seniors

Florida elder law attorneys are skilled in navigating the complex federal and state programs that are available to seniors, even those with high income and asset levels. Even more affluent seniors might be able to preserve hard-earned savings by establishing a carefully executed estate plan early. By doing so, they can establish eligibility for public benefits without spending all of their wealth. In The Villages, the Millhorn Elder Law Planning Group offers legal advice for seniors facing nursing home placement or trying to pay for care. Sometimes an estate plan includes planning for public benefits and preserving assets more than avoiding taxation. Estate planning of yesterday is quickly giving way to more aggressive planning for rising costs in health care. If you need experienced and compassionate help with your plan, call for a consultation today.

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