When drugs are too expensive even for working people with insurance | Arkansas Blog

Friday, July 10, 2015

When drugs are too expensive even for working people with insurance

Posted By on Fri, Jul 10, 2015 at 11:39 AM

Kristin Agar, a Little Rock social worker, provides the example for a Washington Post article about a growing problem in American health care — expensive drugs.

Agar has a job and health insurance. She also has a disease treatable by only one drug on the market.

Her doctor diagnosed her with lupus, a disease in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue, including the skin, joints, brain, or kidneys. Agar’s doctor prescribed Benlysta, the only treatment on the market specifically for lupus.

But Agar says that, although she works hard and makes decent money, she isn’t able to afford Benlysta. Agar’s insurance policy pays for 80 percent of the drug’s price, or about $2,500 per dose. But Benlysta is so expensive that Agar would still have to pay $450 once or twice a month for the medicine — on top of a $770 monthly insurance premium, and her other medical costs.

“I make too much money to qualify for assistance, but I don’t make enough to pay the bills,” she says.

Agar is by no means alone.

Patients with HIV, cancer, lupus, leukemia, hepatitis C and other serious conditions are paying huge out-of-pocket sums for necessary medication. These costs are putting heavy mental and financial stress on some of America’s most vulnerable people.

And the trend is getting worse. According to Truveris, a drug pricing research firm, the combined prices for brand, generic and specialty drugs rose 10.9 percent in 2014 compared with the previous year.

These rising prices are forcing some patients to take on huge amounts of debt. Others, like Kristin Agar, are forgoing medications altogether – increasing the risk that they will have more serious health complications down the road.

The article didn't specifically identify another pressing problem: Politicians like the controlling Republicans in Arkansas who don't want to contribute to universal health care and who believe people can look out for themselves — presumably by working harder, as Jeb Bush has suggested, or smarter or by choosing a rich birth parent. In Arkansas, legislators are spoiling to cut back extended insurance benefits that still don't manage to help people like Agar.

For those who work hard and play by the rules, Sen. Hendren? Those are the breaks?

Tags: , ,


Comments (36)

Showing 1-36 of 36

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-36 of 36

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

  • Among the last words from Kenneth Williams: 'Finger Lickin' Good Fried Chicken'

    What's purported to be a final-words essay from condemned prisoner Kenneth Williams was distributed today by Deborah Robinson, a freelance journalist in Arkansas.  He reflects on his execution, his victims, reactions of inmates and big servings of fried chicken, which he says are given to all inmates on execution days.
    • Apr 27, 2017
  • Police identify two women found fatally shot on Chicot Road

    Little Rock police have identified two women found dead of gunshot wounds in an SUV parked next to a vacant trailer in a mobile home park at 11500 Chicot Road.
    • May 16, 2017
  • Today in Trump: Obstruction of justice anyone?

    It's the New York Times with the news today. Fired FBI Director James Comey kept notes of his talks with Donald Trump. A memo he wrote in February after a meeting with Trump said the president asked him to shut down the investigation into Michael Flynn, his former national security adviser.
    • May 16, 2017


  • Arkansas vs Ole Miss at War Memorial stadium in Little Rock, Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018. After leading for much of the game, Arkansas lost 37-33 when Ole Miss scored the game winning Touchdown with less that 2 minutes left. 
  • Margaret Clark Adventure Park
    New sculptures, preschoolers play area dedicated in Riverfront Park in Little Rock.

Most Recent Comments


© 2018 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation