Friday, 17 August 2012

Co-payment raises consumer medicine costs by over one third in a month

Inflation goes up to 2.2% almost exclusively due to medicine costs
SPAIN Patients had to begin paying for part of their medication from July 1. A quick unscientific survey among pharmacists reveals what many of us already knew: the system was not ready for it, at least here in Andalucía. On a national scale, the National Statistics Institute (INE in its Spanish acronym) confirms that inflation was up by 2.2% year to year, due principally to the increase in medicine costs. The numbers, says one newspaper, speak for themselves: the cost of medication went up by 36.3% in a single month. For example, if your medication cost €10 before July 1, it now costs €13.3. This applies to all health related items, prescribed or otherwise, as the INE measures the final consumer price.>>>
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The group the INE denominates as Medicine jumped from a negative -3% to become the item that, behind alcoholic drinks and tobacco, has contributed mostly to the increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which rose to an annual 6.6%. The Goverment has admitted that if the co-payment had not come into effect on July 1, inflation would have stayed at only 1.9%, the figure for June. It expects that the 'staircase effect' will bring the inflation index by 2013. Things are no different in Andalucía,>>>where prices have gone up in line with the national average, with only a few differentials. The provinces showing most inflation are Córdoba (2.5%), Granada (2.3%), Huelva y Málaga (2.1%), Jaén y Cádiz (2%), while  Sevilla (1,8%) and Almería (1,9%) came in below the national average of 2.2%.

The INE has no specific figures for the autonomous regions that would allow us to measure by how much medicines have risen in the region. However, a grouping for medicines and therapeutic equipment does offer an idea of the tendencies.

So, the monthly index between June and July 2012, the increase is slightly lower than the national average: 19% versus 20.3%. However, on measuring the annual price evolution, from July 2011 to July 2012, prices have gone up substantially over the average: 19.4% vs 12.8%. 

Returning to the national sphere, if the distorting effect of pharmaceutical co-payment on the CPI, price rises would have been typical of July, when summer sales tend to lower them.

But there are two indicators that would have kept the CPI rising, if only typically. Fuel went up, and so did electricity and gas, by 1.5% per month and 5.4% annually.

On the other hand, foodstuffs, including fresh fruit and vegetables, showed a small decrease in price overall, as did legumes and chicken. Not that we noticed at the local supermarket.

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