Other cost increases hitting workers include larger hikes in the cost of family coverage, less access to needed prescription drugs through stricter HMO formularies and higher prices for more comprehensive coverage. See the Consumers Unions’ Health Care Plans and Managed Care (PDF).
Consumers are using more prescriptions, at younger ages and for more conditions, and substituting newer, more expensive medications for established products. As a result, pharmaceutical spending increased by 17.4 percent annually between 1999 and 2000 and another 16 percent from 2000 to 2001 (PDF).
The first paragraph implies that less access to prescription drugs is bad, while the second suggests that more access to prescription drugs is bad. How much access to prescription drugs is good? And how can spending be kept down if it is bad to expose patients to the costs of their medications?