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On this World Cancer Day, President Biden Has Lowered Costs for Patients

By February 4, 2024No Comments

Millions of Cancer Patients and Survivors Are Saving Thanks to The Inflation Reduction Act

On this World Cancer Day, millions of cancer patients and survivors feel the direct financial impacts of affordable prescription drugs and health insurance from the Inflation Reduction Act, passed by President Biden and Democrats in Congress. 

The Inflation Reduction Act has capped out-of-pocket spending on drugs to $2,000 a year for Medicare beneficiaries, prevented drug companies from raising prices faster than the rate of inflation, and given Medicare the power to negotiate for lower drug prices. The Inflation Reduction Act also lowered health insurance premiums for millions of people who buy health insurance on their own, with a historic 21.3 million signing up for coverage in 2024. 

However, MAGA Republicans and their allies are scheming to rip away this life-saving care. The GOP has introduced legislation to repeal the Inflation Reduction Act while their allies are waging a legal battle in the courts against free preventive care including cancer screenings, and big drug companies are trying to block the Medicare Drug Price Negotiation Program. 

Thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act, cancer patients can breathe a sigh of relief knowing the care they need is covered and the cost of their prescription drugs won’t cause them to have to choose between food and rent.

By The Numbers:

  • 30 percent of Medicare beneficiaries who face high prices for cancer treatments don’t fill their prescriptions.
  • Medicare has spent over $14.3 billion on the cancer treatment drug Imbruvica – an average of $128,548 per beneficiary. Medicare is now negotiating a lower price.
  • 1.4 million Medicare enrollees spend more than $2,000 on medications each year, including people who need high-cost cancer drugs. Starting in 2025, seniors will pay no more than $2,000 per year on prescription drugs.
  • Tax credits included in the Inflation Reduction Act reduced health premiums for overabout 19 million people who receive their coverage through the Marketplace. These plans cover pre-existing conditions, including cancer, enabling patients to continue to afford coverage. 

The Inflation Reduction Act Lowers Health Care Costs

Capping Out-Of-Pocket Spending On Prescription Drugs Relieves Financial Stressors. Medicare beneficiaries with serious conditions like cancer, multiple sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis could save thousands of dollars under the Inflation Reduction Act. In 2025, out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs will be capped at $2,000 per year for medications covered by Medicare Part D; directly lowering costs for the more than 1.4 million enrollees who paid more than $2,000 on medication in 2020. A common drug often prescribed to Americans with cancer are brand-name oral oncolytics that can cost upwards of $10,000 a year. 30 percent of patients in need of oral oncolytics struggle to maintain treatment due to cost. A quarter of American adults have not filled a prescription, cutting pills in half, or skipped doses due to the cost of medication.

Extending Premium Subsidies Saves Lives. The Inflation Reduction Act extended enhanced premium subsidies through the end of 2025, saving the average consumer over $800 per year on premiums. As of 2024, approximately 19 million people, or over 90 percent of consumers who selected an ACA plan, received enhanced premium tax credits, making their coverage affordable and accessible. After two years of these subsidies, the Department of Health and Human Services released an analysis showing that just 8 percent of Americans lacked health insurance at the beginning of 2022 — an all-time low for the nation. Having affordable health care is imperative for Americans diagnosed with cancer and other chronic illnesses to receive necessary care, tests, and treatment. 

Improves The Lives Of Seniors And People Of Color With Chronic Conditions. Seniors with chronic illnesses, such as cancer, on Medicare are expected to benefit the most from provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act. About 60 percent of cancers occur in adults older than 65 years old. Older adults are also more likely to be diagnosed with cancer once it reaches the later stages of development. This is due to slower cell regeneration making cancer more difficult to spot in early stages of growth. People of color are also disproportionately impacted by certain cancers. Black people have the highest death rate and shortest survival rate than any other racial or ethnic group. Black men are twice as likely to die from prostate cancer and Black women over 50 are twice as likely to die from breast cancer than their white counterparts. Lower prescription drug prices for Medicare and the expansion of premium tax credits make affording care for these chronic conditions possible for older adults and people of color. 

Gives Medicare The Power To Negotiate Lower Drug Prices. Thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act, Medicare is currently negotiating lower prices for Medicare Part D’s 50 million beneficiaries. 10 drugs have been selected for initial price negotiations, and more drugs will be negotiated down each year. By 2030, up to 80 drugs will have lower negotiated prices. 

  • Medicare Is Currently Negotiating Lower Prices for Cancer Drug Imbruvica. One of the first ten drugs selected for negotiation is Imbruvica, a drug used to treat blood cancers. Over 20,000 Medicare Part D beneficiaries rely on Imbruvica as of 2022, with those not enrolled in the Extra Help program paying an average of $5,247 annually​​. Imbruvica costs significantly more in the U.S. than in other high-income countries. Its manufacturers charge U.S. customers around 1.5x more than customers in Switzerland, and more than 5x more to U.S. customers than to customers in Australia.