This article was updated February 25, 2020.
Medicare Part D provided drugs for 43.9 million Medicare beneficiaries in 2018. Total drug spending was $93.9 billion, which accounts for about 13 percent of all Medicare spending.
Top 10 drugs costing Medicare the most
Medicare Part D drugs are drugs you pick up at the pharmacy counter. Of the Part D prescription drugs covered by Medicare in 2018, about 90 percent of them were generic. Many of the other covered drugs were brand-name—and expensive—and treat conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, and nerve pain.
Medicare Part B covers drugs that are administered in a physician’s office. These drugs are most often prescribed to treat conditions like cancer, addiction, hepatitis C, multiple sclerosis, and more. Physician-administered drugs are also far more expensive than most Part D drugs.
Here’s what Medicare paid for the top 10 most expensive Part D and Part B drugs in 2018.
How much patients pay
Between 2007 and 2017, Medicare drug spending increased from $46 billion to $80 billion, but the amount plans paid fell from 55 percent to 21 percent, leaving the lion’s share of drug spending on the consumer.
This has been a long-growing problem as patients all around the country struggle to afford their prescription drugs. Legislation has been put forth to allow Americans to purchase prescription drugs from Canada, end the practice of pharmacy benefit manager kickbacks, cap out-of-pocket drug spending, pin American drug prices to international drug prices, and more. However, no bill has yet to pass both chambers of Congress as of the writing of this article.