CDC: High prescription costs cause nearly 1 in 10 patients to skimp on meds

High prescription costs keep almost one in 10 patients from taking their medications as prescribed, according to an updated report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The researchers used data from the 2013 National Health Interview for the report and published the findings last week as a NCHS Data Brief. Overall, 7.8 percent of adults reported not taking medication as recommended because of high costs.

Patients of every age have admitted to skimping on medications, according to researchers, though patients younger than 65 were nearly twice as likely to do so (8.5 percent versus 4.4 percent). While insurance coverage boosted medication adherence, adults with incomes below 139 percent of the federal poverty level were the most likely to not take medication as prescribed due to costs.

Measures taken by patients to reduce prescription expenses included the following:

  • Asking a doctor for a lower-cost medication (15.1 percent)
  • Purchasing prescription drugs from another country, where they may not be regulated (1.6 percent)
  • Using alternative therapies (4.2 percent)
  • Skipping doses (5.3 percent of 18- to 64-year olds; 2.4 percent of those 65 and older)
  • Delaying filling a prescription (7.2 percent of 18- to 64-year olds; 3.4 percent of those 65 and older)

These money-stretching practices threaten to undermine the United States' goals of achieving higher-quality, lower-cost care, David Katz, M.D., director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center, told HealthDay. "Failure to use an important medication portends complications, a bad outcome and higher costs," he said. "The patient, the payer, and potentially the public, all lose in this scenario. Removing financial disincentive is a good place to start."

To learn more:
- see the CDC data brief
- read the article from HealthDay