As prescription drug costs continue to increase, it is important for employers to understand the trends behind prescription drug costs and what they can do to better manage their health care expenses.
In 2013, the United States spent $329.2 billion on prescription drugs—eight times more than the $40.3 billion spent in 1991. Although prescription drug spending has historically been a small proportion of national health care spending compared to hospital and physician services, in recent years, it has grown rapidly.
In 2014, prescription drug spending in the United States increased 13.1 percent—the largest increase since 2003. This jump was due to a number of factors—a major one being a 30.9 percent increase in spending on specialty medications, which are high-cost drugs used to treat complicated conditions like heptatis C, cancer and rheumatoid arthritis2. The growth in prescription spending was also due to more people being insured and gaining prescription drug coverage as a result of the Affordable Cart Act (ACA).