The state of the medical and pharmaceutical industries today are less than ideal. Many people are going without essential services due to prices that are demonstrably unfair, clear examples of greed overriding ethics.
The healthcare industry has seen its fair share of ups and downs. Currently, medical professionals are being put through their paces, and then some. However, there is a factor in the healthcare industry that serves to work against patients, and that factor is pricing. It’s no secret that many people struggle to keep active medical insurance or, for the same underlying reason, pay for services out of pocket. However, this issue is obvious enough that there is a vested interest and a concerted effort behind changing things for the better by lowering medical costs. Here’s what you need to know.
While prescription drugs have been overpriced for a long time, the problem hit its peak with the Martin Shkreli scandal. Infamously, Shkreli raised the price of Daraprim from about $13 per pill to $750 per pill suddenly and unexpectedly. This angered a lot of people, because it exemplified the rampant overpricing of prescription medicine to such an outrageous degree, and the drug itself was an extremely important one used to treat toxoplasmosis in both AIDS and non-AIDS cases. Shkreli immediately became a villain in the media, and he has since been held accountable and sentenced to prison time and $7 million in fines. However, Shkreli’s role in the broader problem was to shine a light on the way that lifesaving medicines are priced, namely with little to no consideration for actually serving patients.
More recently, in 2019, John Arnold and his wife, Laura, have leveraged their considerable wealth to try to combat the problem. This billionaire couple began funding a support campaign for the drug pricing bill put in place by Nancy Pelosi, part of which entailed working with researchers from prestigious organizations to provide compelling data about the truth of the matter directly to congress. Luckily, this push was made during a time in which both sides of the argument were able to come together against big pharma. Former President Donald Trump was outspoken against pharmaceutical companies, despite being a businessman himself and despite his political party generally falling in favor of corporate interests. Even then, bringing more attention to the issue was much needed.
Medical insurance is a topic that is no stranger to controversies of its own. During the Obama administration, the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, was put in place to give the public nearly universal access to healthcare, typically by providing it for free to those who couldn’t afford it. However, even now, opposition to the ACA pervades conservative discussions on the grounds that it financially harms insurance companies. However, the general consensus is that medical insurance is a necessity; the only difference between sides is who is deemed to be deserving of the security of being insured.
The problem is a universally recognized one, that medical services and prescription drugs are far too expensive for the average person to afford out of pocket. Instead, policyholders are expected to pay for medical insurance on a monthly basis in exchange for coverage when they need it. While insurance policies are typically limited to a certain amount of coverage during a given period of time, the monthly fee is typically much more affordable in the short term than saving up for the actual medical costs. This works primarily because, like prescription drugs, medical services are often incredibly overpriced. This pattern emerges because for profit hospitals (and pharmaceutical companies) can effectively charge whatever they want, because the services are vital in every sense of the word. The AFA is a great example of a policy change that promotes accessibility of medical care, but that hard won battle is still being undermined, and, like with medication, the conversation should ideally center around the issue of inflated prices, rather than the workaround this is insurance.
The state of the medical and pharmaceutical industries today are less than ideal. Many people are going without essential services due to prices that are demonstrably unfair, clear examples of greed overriding ethics. Fixing the problem will require going through the proper channels to change the laws on the matter, and some big steps have already been made in that direction.