Over the past few years, the topic of healthcare reform has been debated across the country by politicians and citizens alike. Signed into law by President Obama on March 23, 2010, the controversial Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) giant has begun its earth-shattering transformation as sections of the law are gradually being phased into action. With unwavering promises of more safety and benefits for the average American, bystanders can only wonder how the infamous Obamacare plan will affect pharmaceutical companies.
As the saying goes, “there’s no such thing as a free lunch” and while healthcare prices and fees have been continually reduced for patients, costs are still being increased in other areas. This plan is predicted to take a heavy toll on the U.S. budget as the Congressional Budget Office predicts that America will be sunk nearly $226 billion more into debt by 2019 due to Obamacare alone, begging the question: will pharmacies also be forced to pay the price?
Officials claim that there should be little direct impact on pharmacists besides adjusting to new methods of how to charge buyers and perhaps answering questions from confused customers. However, as pharmacies interact with health insurance companies on a regular basis, these professionals often have first-hand knowledge about reforms and policies. In some cases, this results in frustration. According to pharmacy owner Jenny Kinsey, Americans who have health insurance have already been paying for the neglect of others who are either unable to afford insurance, or choose not to purchase insurance. As medicine is purchased, insurance companies receive what some may see as undeserving, outrageously high premiums.
Nevertheless, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act did not come without approval from large pharmaceutical companies or manufacturers. One undeniable advantage that this reform could pose for these companies is the fact that with more coverage and less fees, consumers can purchase more products, and demand for medications could be at an all time high. However, vending of brand name drugs comes at a cost in the form of monstrous annual fees for manufacturers, which started at $2.5 billion in 2011 and is expected to rise to a shocking $4.8 billion in 2018.
In the future, Obamacare could mark huge success in medical breakthroughs as the plan commits to providing tax credits for the production of new therapies by small companies, coverage for costly patient clinical trials, and funding for other innovations. As with all reforms, only time will show the true impact of this decision.