High Value Health Care

To improve health care affordability, we need to address high prices of Rx drugs and hospital care

PIRG's Patricia Kelmar testifying before Congress
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PIRG's Patricia Kelmar testifying before Congress about high health costs

On March 23, 2023, the 13th anniversary of the Affordable Care Act, the House Ways & Means Committee’s Subcommittee on Health hosted a hearing on health care affordability. Patricia Kelmar, PIRG’s senior director for health care campaigns, was selected to represent consumer interests with her testimony at Thursday’s session. She focused on how the prices of prescription drugs and hospital-based services have risen in the absence of competition in health markets and will discuss the solutions needed to constrain rising costs. 

Hospital services and prescription drugs make up almost three-quarters of the per-person health care spend for employer sponsored insurance. Businesses struggle to pay the ever increasing costs of employee health care coverage and feel the pressure to offer plans that push more of the costs onto their workers, in an effort to keep down premium costs. That results in consumers paying more in deductibles, co-payments and co-insurance. The price burden is real and has been growing every year since at least 2011. 

“The prices we are charged for prescription drugs and hospital care are the biggest drivers of our health care spending,” said Kelmar. “Employers and patients are paying higher and higher prices because health markets lack the competition that drives prices down. We need innovative solutions to end anticompetitive practices.”

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