New dashboard shows wild drug pricing variability in Medicare Part D

It’s the middle of July. A time of year for pool parties, barbecues, campfires. and generally sweating your butt off. It’s a relaxing time of year for the majority of us. But what about the ski bums out there? It’s a long six months (five if you are lucky) until the first big dump of the year.

At 46brooklyn, we sympathize with impatiently waiting for things – except rather than waiting to shred the gnar, we’ve been anxiously waiting to shred through Medicare Part D drug pricing data. Good news, drug pricing enthusiasts; we have a big (data) dump for you!

After months of work on our newest drug pricing tool, we are pleased to release the Medicare Part D Drug Pricing Ski Slope dashboard. In this viz, we give you the ability to select one of many drugs (brand and generic, oral solid and non-oral solid), and view the price set by thousands of Part D plans for your selected drug. For good measure, we added a line to show you the true market-based cost of the drug (based on NADAC), so you can see how frustratingly random Part D pricing is by different plans for the same drug.

If you’ve followed any of our previous work, where we slice and dice the drug prices that are being set in state Medicaid programs, you already know that the drug supply chain is setting ridiculously off-the-mark prices on a plethora of prescription drugs. It should come as no surprise that after analyzing a ton on Medicare Part D data, it’s abundantly clear that the federal government and our nation’s seniors are on a similar wild ride to the one state Medicaid programs are on. It’s a total free-for-all.

After studying this new viz for weeks, here are our top four observations in the Medicare Part D program:

  1. Some generic drugs are priced fairly and consistently across the board, while others show unbelievable pricing variations across Part D plans

  2. Unsurprisingly, brand drugs do not show much pricing variability, but some charts show some interesting “cliffs” suggesting some plans could be pricing brand drugs well below list price

  3. Not only are many generic drugs in Part D wildly overpriced, they are both overpriced and “over-tiered,” unnecessarily subjecting seniors to higher out-of-pocket expense

  4. There is one more reason that speciality generics can cost more than their equivalent brands – plans are setting wildly inflated generic cost in comparison to true market-based cost.

To learn more about seniors’ wild drug pricing ride in Medicare Part D, check out our latest report.

We’ve received outstanding feedback on our last drug pricing report and our first video tutorial. Please keep the feedback coming. Contact us with your questions and insights.