Medicare Spends the Most on These 10 Prescription Drugs — How It Affects You

Senior citizen female holding bottles of prescription medicine sitting in a wheelchair.
DNY59 / Getty Images/iStockphoto

In a recent blog post, AARP researchers claim that the prices of 75 of the 100 brand name drugs that Medicare spends the most money on were raised in January. In what may come as unsurprising economic news, none of the top brand name drugs experienced a list price decrease.

See: You May Be Spending Too Much on Medicare if You’re Not Using These Programs
Find: Do Social Security and Medicare Taxes Wind Up Being Worth It? Crunch the Numbers

Of those 75 top brand name drugs, the average list price increase was 5.2%. Prices increased between 2.0% and 7.9% for these drugs, and more than half of these drug prices increased by 5.0% or more. Those same 75 drugs represented $93.2 billion in total Medicare Part D spending in 2020. That is almost half of the $198.7 billion that Medicare Part D spent on all prescription drugs the same year.

According to Leigh Purvis, director of health care costs and access at the AARP Public Policy Institute, the impact of the aforementioned price hikes will be considerable on Medicare Part D. Costs for both the program itself and its beneficiaries, who take an average of four to five prescriptions a month and have a median annual income of just under $30,000, will have to increase.

Make Your Money Work for You

Increasing drug prices will affect all Americans in terms of increased cost sharing premiums for those with health insurance — and higher taxes for all due to increased government spending. Pricing older people out of what they can afford for drugs and premiums may force more and more to stop taking their necessary medications altogether.

AARP’s Fair Rx Prices Now campaign is pushing for legislation that would provide Medicare with improved price negotiation power concerning pharmaceutical companies, levy tax penalization on drug manufacturers who raise prices at a rate greater than overall inflation — a scenario which occurred every year between 2006 and 2020, per the AARP — and place a cap on Part D out-of-pocket costs. By calling into question the drug industry’s more contentious pricing practices, according to the AARP, it is hoped that all Americans will benefit from some form of price stabilization and greater financial relief.

Based on AARP data, the following list details the drug brands that Medicare spent the most money on in 2020 — with information on their uses, attached Medicare spending in 2020, number of beneficiaries using said drug, and the drug’s relative price increase in Jan. 2022.

1. Eliquis

Use: A blood thinner for people with atrial fibrillation (A-fib). Medicare spending in 2020: $9.9 billion. Number of beneficiaries: 2,641,941. Jan. 2022 price increase: 6%.

Make Your Money Work for You

2. Revlimid

Use: To treat cancer. Medicare spending in 2020: $5.4 billion. Number of beneficiaries: 43,747. Jan. 2022 price increase: 4.5%.

3. Xarelto

Use: A blood thinner for people with atrial fibrillation (A-fib). Medicare spending in 2020: $4.7 billion. Number of beneficiaries: 1,184,718. Jan. 2022 price increase: 4.9%.

4. Januvia

Use: To treat diabetes. Medicare spending in 2020: $3.9 billion. Number of beneficiaries: 934,686. Jan. 2022 price increase: 5%.

5. Trulicity

Use: To treat diabetes. Medicare spending in 2020: $3.3 billion. Number of beneficiaries: 497,327. Jan. 2022 price increase: 5%.

6. Imbruvica

Use: To treat cancer. Medicare spending in 2020: $3 billion. Number of beneficiaries: 26,847. Jan. 2022 price increase: 7.4%.

7. Jardiance

Use: To treat diabetes. Medicare spending in 2020: $2.4 billion. Number of beneficiaries: 594,859. Jan. 2022 price increase: 4%.

8. Humira (Cf) pen

Use: To treat rheumatoid arthritis, plaque psoriasis. Medicare spending in 2020: $2.2 billion. Number of beneficiaries: 42,406. Jan. 2022 price increase: 7.4%.

Learn: What Is Supplemental Medigap Insurance and How Does It Apply to Medicare?
Explore: Medicare and Taxes: How Your 2023 Medicare Premiums Are Affected by Your 2021 Tax Filing

9. Ibrance

Use: To treat cancer. Medicare spending in 2020: $2.1 billion. Number of beneficiaries: 21,394. Jan. 2022 price increase: 6.9%.

Make Your Money Work for You

10. Symbicort

Use: To treat asthma. Medicare spending in 2020: $2 billion. Number of beneficiaries: 1,017,530. Jan. 2022 price increase: 2%.

More From GOBankingRates

Share this article:

Make Your Money Work for You

About the Author

David Nadelle is a freelance editor and writer based in Ottawa, Canada. After working in the energy industry for 18 years, he decided to change careers in 2016 and concentrate full-time on all aspects of writing. He recently completed a technical communication diploma and holds previous university degrees in journalism, sociology and criminology. David has covered a wide variety of financial and lifestyle topics for numerous publications and has experience copywriting for the retail industry.
Learn More

Best Bank Accounts for September 2022

Untitled design (1)
Close popup The GBR Closer icon

Sending you timely financial stories that you can bank on.

Sign up for our daily newsletter for the latest financial news and trending topics.

Loading...
Please enter an email.
Please enter a valid email address.
There was an unknown error. Please try again later.

For our full Privacy Policy, click here.