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How new drugs helping millions of Americans live longer are also making them go broke

(WASHINGTON POST)  Ana Swanson — If you pay for good health insurance, shouldn’t you be able to afford the medicine you need?

For Kristin Agar, a 63-year-old social worker in Little Rock, Ark., this has not been the case.

In 2008, Agar began experiencing strange symptoms. Her feet swelled, her joints ached, a rash appeared on her face, and every night she would get a fever that would disappear in the morning.

Her doctor diagnosed her with lupus, a disease in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue, including the skin, joints, brain, or kidneys. Agar’s doctor prescribed Benlysta, the only treatment on the market specifically for lupus.

But Agar says that, although she works hard and makes decent money, she isn’t able to afford Benlysta. Agar’s insurance policy pays for 80 percent of the drug’s price, or about $2,500 per dose. But Benlysta is so expensive that Agar would still have to pay $450 once or twice a month for the medicine — on top of a $770 monthly insurance premium, and her other medical costs.

“I make too much money to qualify for assistance, but I don’t make enough to pay the bills,” she says.

Source: How new drugs helping millions of Americans live longer are also making them go broke – The Washington Post