Prescription Drug Costs Pushing Many Adults To Go Without Medications
The rising cost of prescription drugs prompted one in seven U.S. residents younger than age 65 to skip a medication in 2007, compared with one in 10 in 2003, according to a report the Center for Studying Health System Change released Thursday, the New York Times reports.
For the report, lead author Laurie Felland, a senior health researcher at the center, and colleagues used data from the 2007 Health Tracking Household Survey, a nationally representative telephone survey of 10,400 adults younger than age 65. Participants were asked whether during the previous 12 months there was a time when "you needed prescription medicines but didn't get them because you couldn't afford it."
Researchers determined that:
- 5% of children did not have prescriptions filled in 2007 because of cost, compared with 3.1% in 2003;
- 17.8% of working-age adults did not have prescriptions filled in 2007 because of cost, compared with 13.8% in 2003;
- One in 10 working-age U.S. residents with employer-sponsored coverage did not have prescriptions filled in 2007 because of cost, compared with 8.7% in 2003;
- Three in 10 low-income U.S. residents did not have prescriptions filled in 2007 because of cost;
- Nearly one in four adults who were Medicaid beneficiaries or receive coverage through state insurance programs said they had difficulty affording drugs;
- Nearly two-thirds of uninsured, working-age adults with at least one chronic condition did not have prescriptions filled in 2007 because of cost; and
- About 36.1 million U.S. residents younger than age 65 did not have prescriptions filled in 2007 because of cost.
Felland noted that the statistics might be higher now due to the current recession. She said, "Our findings are particularly troublesome given the increased reliance on prescription drugs to treat chronic conditions," adding, "People who go without their prescriptions experience worsening health and complications."
According to Felland, a number of factors contributed to the trend, including rising drug prices, the tendency of physicians to prescribe drugs more frequently, expensive new specialty medications and lessening drug coverage that shifts a greater share of costs to patients.She said, "Insurance coverage offers less financial protection against out-of-pocket costs than it did in the past" (Rabin, New York Times, 1/23). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.