What Should Be Done About the High Cost of Prescription Drugs?

The United States spends about $3.3 trillion a year on health care, with about 10 percent of that spending for prescription drugs. Most Americans are very concerned about the high cost of prescription drugs and three-quarters of Americans consider these prices to be unreasonable, according to a survey from NORC at the University of Chicago and the West Health Institute.

The study offers insights into how Americans think about the cost of prescription drugs, and proposals to address the issue. Heading into the midterm elections in November, the costs of health care are important to the public. Out of six public policy issues, it is the highest priority, equally as important as jobs and the economy. When it comes to the costs of prescription drugs, 65 percent of Americans are extremely or very concerned about the status quo. More than 80 percent support proposals to allow Medicare to directly negotiate with pharmaceutical firms for lower prescription prices and permit increased competition from lower cost generic medication.

It also reveals what Americans think about how lawmakers are dealing with the cost of prescription drugs. Eighty-eight percent say medication costs should be a priority issue for Congressional candidates this year and despite promises to lower drug prices, neither President Trump nor Congress get high marks from the public on their handling of the issue.

The national survey of 1,002 adults was funded by WHI and used AmeriSpeak®, the probability-based panel of NORC at the University of Chicago. Interviews were conducted between August 16-20, 2018, online and using landlines and cell phones.

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