Medicines: drug prices rise

Medicines: The prices of medicines are increasing. Health insurers have to face rising costs.

Insured persons will face rising costs again. After the practice fee and additional contributions, insured persons also expect higher costs for medication from September 1, 2010. Because the new co-payment exemption limits and fixed amounts for preparations have the consequence that in the future the proportion of co-payment medicines will decrease from 36.1 percent (2009) to 18.2 percent from September 2010, according to the Federal Association of German Pharmacists' Associations (ABDA ).

So far, people insured by law have usually been exempt from additional payment for medication if the corresponding preparations cost less than 30 percent of the maximum amount of a possible reimbursement set by the statutory health insurance companies. If the pharmaceutical price of a prescription-only preparation is above the co-payment exemption limit, the insured must pay 10 percent of the costs themselves, but a minimum of 5 euros and a maximum of 10 euros. The additional payments are then forwarded directly from the pharmacies to the statutory health insurance companies.

The statutory health insurance companies can, however, also stipulate other types of co-payment exemption for their insured persons, based on discount agreements with the pharmaceutical manufacturers. It is thus possible to reduce the additional payment for certain preparations by half or even to cancel them entirely. The fact that the new regulations result in such a significant reduction in the proportion of overpaid medicines also expresses the willingness to save of the statutory insurance companies, since the exemptions were dealt with far less generously than before. (fp)

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