Medicare prescription costs drop after medical marijuana legalized

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...

It Looks Like Medical Marijuana Is Burning Up Prescription Drug Sales

In the United States, costs of prescription drugs continue to soar. While this puts an additional burden on many Americans, the older generation may be feeling it the worst.

One factor, however, is leading costs to actually drop: The legalization of medicinal marijuana. Research released by Health Affairs this week claim that since legalization of the medical use of the drug in several states, costs to Medicare Part D have dropped.

SEE ALSO: One insult sparks 30-person fight at Walmart

Medicare Part D focuses on drug costs for those apart of the program; patients must opt in and pay a premium for their prescriptions rather than individualized costs.

Doctors may recommend medical marijuana to treat symptoms like chronic pain, depression or anxiety. It may be used as a replacement for antidepressants and painkillers. Because the demand for those drugs has decreased as patients opt for marijuana for treatment, costs have declined.

Medical marijuana is now legal in 25 states and Washington DC. The latest states to allow the drug are Ohio and Pennsylvania, which passed laws just this year. It may come to a vote in Florida and Missouri this November.

RELATED: Ohio's marijuana legalization

11 PHOTOS
Ohio Marijuana Legalization
See Gallery
Ohio Marijuana Legalization
Ian James, executive director of ResponsibleOhio, a pro-marijuana legalization group, speaks to the crowd at an election night event at the Le Meridien hotel, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2015, in Columbus, Ohio. Voters have rejected a ballot measure that would have made Ohio the first state to make marijuana legal for both recreational and medical use in a single stroke. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
A voter in a tie-dye T-shirt votes at the Schiller Recreation Center polling station on election day, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2015, in Columbus, Ohio. Eligible Ohioans headed to the polls Tuesday, to decide whether to make marijuana legal for both recreational and medical use. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
A voter places his ballot in a bag to be counted at a polling station at The Ohio State University student union, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2015, in Columbus, Ohio. Ohio voters headed to the polls today to decide whether to allow marijuana to be grown, processed and consumed within the state's borders. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Buddie, the mascot for the pro-marijuana legalization group ResponsibleOhio, stands in front of an opposition voter's chalk lettering that reads "monopoly" at the Ohio State University oval on election day, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2015, in Columbus, Ohio. Ohio voters headed to the polls today to decide whether to allow marijuana to be grown, processed and consumed within the state's borders. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Michael McGovern, a representative from ResponsibleOhio, a pro-marijuana legalization group, wears a sticker during a promotional tour stop at Miami University, Friday, Oct. 23, 2015, in Oxford, Ohio. A ballot proposal before Ohio voters this fall would be the first in the Midwest to take marijuana use and sales from illegal to legal for both personal and medical use in a single vote. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
College students collect lawn signs at a promotional tour bus from ResponsibleOhio, a pro-marijuana legalization group, at Miami University, Friday, Oct. 23, 2015, in Oxford, Ohio. A ballot proposal before Ohio voters this fall would be the first in the Midwest to take marijuana use and sales from illegal to legal for both personal and medical use in a single vote. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Buddie, the mascot for the pro-marijuana legalization group ResponsibleOhio, poses for photos with passing college students at Miami University, Friday, Oct. 23, 2015, in Oxford, Ohio. A ballot proposal before Ohio voters this fall would be the first in the Midwest to take marijuana use and sales from illegal to legal for both personal and medical use in a single vote. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
A volunteer for ResponsibleOhio, a pro-marijuana legalization group, holds a clipboard during a promotional tour stop at Miami University, Friday, Oct. 23, 2015, in Oxford, Ohio. A ballot proposal before Ohio voters this fall would be the first in the Midwest to take marijuana use and sales from illegal to legal for both personal and medical use in a single vote. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Buddie, the mascot for the pro-marijuana legalization group ResponsibleOhio, holds a sign during a promotional tour stop at Miami University, Friday, Oct. 23, 2015, in Oxford, Ohio. A ballot proposal before Ohio voters this fall would be the first in the Midwest to take marijuana use and sales from illegal to legal for both personal and medical use in a single vote. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
College students collect lawn signs and shirts at a promotional tour bus from ResponsibleOhio, a pro-marijuana legalization group, at Miami University, Friday, Oct. 23, 2015, in Oxford, Ohio. A ballot proposal before Ohio voters this fall would be the first in the Midwest to take marijuana use and sales from illegal to legal for both personal and medical use in a single vote. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

Research concluded that the legalization of medical marijuana reduced Medicare costs by $165 million in 2013. If it were available nationwide, they estimated that figure to be $470 million. The abstract of the study noted, "The availability of medical marijuana has a significant effect on prescribing patterns and spending in Medicare Part D."

While this is just a small fraction of Part D costs -- estimated to be $99 billion in 2013 -- researchers say it is still significant.

"We wouldn't say that saving money is the reason to adopt this. But it should be part of the discussion," said W. David Bradford, a University of Georgia professor and co-author of the study. He added, "We think it's pretty good indirect evidence that people are using this as medication."

Read Full Story

People are Reading