Center for American Progress Action

Older Georgia Resident Puts Retirement on Hold To Afford Prescription Drugs

When Atlanta resident Bernetha Patterson enrolled in Medicare, she was blindsided by the high copays and couldn’t afford to fill her prescriptions. But with 1 in 4 Americans reporting that they do not take their medication as prescribed due to cost, Bernetha’s experience is far from uncommon.

Photo shows Bernetha Patterson sitting in front of a fountain wearing a purple dress

Bernetha Patterson is pictured in January 2022. (Photo credit: Bernetha Patterson)

When Bernetha turned 65, she was eager to sign up for Medicare. Throughout her life, she heard that Medicare provides older Americans with affordable health care. But when she enrolled in late 2021, she was shocked to see the copays for her diabetes medications. On private insurance, Bernetha’s copays averaged $46 for a one-month supply. Her first copay on Medicare was around $400, a price she could not pay. Instead, she had to ask her sister and children to help her afford the copay. The next month when she went to fill her prescription, the copay jumped to $700. Unable to afford her copays, she could not fill her prescription. After working her whole life, Bernetha wants to retire and spend time with her 10 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. But the high costs of her prescriptions prevent her from being able to retire. Bernetha is excited for her prescription costs to fall due to the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act.

Growing up, my mother always told me, you can't afford to be sick. I thought Medicare would help seniors afford health care, but right now Medicare is not working for me. If Medicare can negotiate lower drug prices, it would be great, and I could afford to retire. Bernetha Patterson

After nearly two decades, Medicare can finally negotiate with pharmaceutical companies after Democrats in Congress passed the Inflation Reduction Act. This provision will save patients such as Bernetha thousands of dollars per year.

Read more stories on how recent legislation has benefited Americans

This collection features stories from people in Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, and New Hampshire whose lives have been improved by the legislation passed during the Biden administration’s first two years.

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