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March 21, 2019

What Americans do when they can't afford their Rx drugs, charted

Daily Briefing

    Around 11% of U.S. adults skipped medication doses to reduce their prescription drug costs, including just over one-third of uninsured adults, according to a data brief published this month by CDC's National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).

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    The data brief is based on responses to NCHS's National Health Interview Survey from 2013 to 2017.


    According to the data brief, 11.4% of U.S. adults ages 18 to 64 said in the past 12 months they had skipped medication doses to reduce their prescription drug costs. Of those individuals, 33.6% were uninsured, while 12.5% were enrolled in Medicaid and 8.4% were enrolled in private health insurance. According to the data brief, the percentage of adults who reported skipping medications to reduce their drug costs was relatively steady from 2015 to 2017.

    The data brief also noted that 19.5% of adults said in the past 12 months they had asked their doctors for medication with a lower cost than what they were originally prescribed. Of those individuals, about 40% were uninsured, about 16% were enrolled in Medicaid, and 18% were enrolled in private health plans. Further, the data brief noted that about 5.4% of adults reported using alternative therapies over the past 12 months in an effort to reduce their prescription drug costs.


    According to Axios' "Vitals," the statistics are in line with other research on how U.S. residents are dealing with rising health care costs. For example, a recent Gallup poll found that nearly one-third of U.S. residents said they have delayed medical care due to its cost.

    AARP in a tweet commenting on the report wrote, "This is unacceptable. No one should have to ration their treatment or skip medication" (Sullivan, The Hill, 3/19; Baker, "Vitals," Axios, 3/19; Diamond, "Pulse," Politico, 3/19; CMS data brief, March 2019).

    What executives need to know about pharmacy

    While historically pharmacy may have been viewed as a cost center, today pharmacy services generate a significant portion of system revenues and are essential to the achievement of strategic system-level priorities.

    To better understand increasingly complex pharmacy issues and the critical role pharmacy plays in overall health system success, download our executive briefings on hot pharmacy topics.

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