Financial Gains for Seniors with Health Care Reform

Aug 10th, 2010 | By Sharon Shaw Elrod MSW EdD | Category: Senior Finances

The new ACA (Affordable Care Act—the acronym for the health care reform bill) carries a promising mandate that could have very positive effects on how seniors are treated for a given disease or illness.  And that positive effect could result in billions of dollars of savings for senior citizens.

 The ACA includes $1.1 billion that will be spent on comparative clinical effectiveness research (CCRE), that is medical research organizations will apply for grant funds to study and compare treatment methodologies (including prescription medications) to determine the most effective ones available.

It stands to reason that such studies should already have been done, and that is true… studies have been conducted on all medications approved by the FDA.  However, such studies are conducted by pharmaceutical companies that have a vested interest in touting their products, and results may well be tainted without the public (or the FDA) knowing. 

Research institutions have a vested interest in conducting research, which will likely produce more objective results.  A hypothetical example may be helpful:  Let’s suggest that a pharmaceutical company has come up with a drug that ‘cures’ headaches and costs $5 per pill; the advertising around the medication gets a lot of physicians to prescribe it for their patients, with research suggesting the medication is more effective with less side effects than plain old aspirin or acetaminophen.  If an independent research institution conducts the same kind of research and the results come out on the side of aspirin or acetaminophen, the senior’s health issues are addressed (the most important consideration here) and at a cost considerably less than would otherwise have been the case.  The only loser here is the pharmaceutical company, who will just start the whole process all over again with another new ‘miracle’ medication.    

One-point-one billion dollars is a lot of money, but if we stand to gain by lowering the cost of medical care and improving health care delivery, it may realistically be a drop in the bucket over many years.



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