Paying Billions for Controversial Alzheimer’s Drug? How About Funding This Instead?

(Republished with permission from Kaiser Health News) By Judith Graham July 6, 2021 – Article summarized by My Insurance Lady 


The US government spends approximately $56 Billion each year on improving health care for adults aging into Medicare. In recent news, there has been controversy on whether they should have invested in a new Alzheimer’s medication that will cost millions for Americans, or something else. The new drug would be costly to get into the hands of Alzheimer’s patients, and the results have not been extensively proven effective although it was approved by the FDA. This could potentially drive up the cost of Medicare Part B, supplemental policies, and out-of-pocket expenses due to the demand by adults who could benefit from this medication on Medicare already. Below are recommendations for other ways to spend the extra funds to improve health care for older Americans.


Make Medicare More Affordable 

One option is to put money towards helping the rising out-of-pocket costs with traditional Medicare plans. By lowering deductibles and copayments for plans, it can lower the overall amount older adults are likely to spend throughout the year. Although Medicare beneficiaries can dip into their Social Security to pay for these costs, studies by AARP and KFF state that in 2017 about 36% of Social Security was being spend on health expenses. By 2030 that could rise to as much as 50% of Social Security benefits.


Pay for Dental, Vision, and Hearing

At this time, it is an additional cost to have extra coverage to help with costs associated with dental, vision and hearing needs. These costs rise every year, and can have a great impact on daily life if adults are struggling to obtain and pay for the care they need. Having money dedicated to off-setting these costs could help a lot of Americans enjoy their later years without worrying about getting the help they need for simple things like glasses and annual cleanings.


Support Family Caregivers

Author Judith Graham states that “Nearly 42 million people provide assistance… to older adults trying to age in place at home. Yet these unpaid caregivers receive little practical support.” Funding to help expand long-term care services, provide training, and offer programs at an affordable rate would benefit aging adults as well as provide jobs and fair wages for direct care workers around the US. Additionally, studies have shown that there are positive impacts for adults who plan to age in their homes. If there was money for programs that make small home improvements and have registered nurse and therapist visits, this could greatly improve morale for older adults, as well as keep nursing homes open for those who need intense care.



With extra funding, much more research could be done to understand what older adults need in terms of physical and mental health, especially with rising cases of dementia. New research shows that dementia might even be avoidable if certain lifestyle choices are made. With the right education and promotion, this could make a huge impact on future generations. Another huge prevention method for depression and feeling isolated for Medicare beneficiaries is more social interaction. Programs could be enhanced and developed to focus on local transportation, safe housing and community centers.


KHN (Kaiser Health News) is a national newsroom that produces in-depth journalism about health issues. Together with Policy Analysis and Polling, KHN is one of the three major operating programs at KFF (Kaiser Family Foundation). KFF is an endowed nonprofit organization providing information on health issues to the nation.