The results of 2 recent surveys conducted by Consumer Reports underscore the financial challenges faced by many Americans in paying for health care, including prescription drugs. These findings include that, over the past 6 months, many have trimmed other household costs or made potentially dangerous sacrifices regarding their health in order to be able to afford their medications. The problem is particularly acute for those younger than 65 years who lack prescription drug insurance coverage.
Of patients taking at least 1 prescription drug, more than half of those with prescription drug insurance and 84% of those younger than 65 years without prescription drug coverage said they have had to reduce other expenses or change their management of finances in order to afford their medication. Steps they have taken include reducing expenditures on groceries, entertainment, and family activities, or making greater use of credit cards.
Among those lacking a prescription drug benefit, 81% in 2012 (up from 65% in 2011) reported taking measures to reduce medical expenses such as putting off a doctor’s appointment or medical procedure, declining a medical test, skipping filling a prescription or taking a scheduled dose, or cutting pills in half. Despite facing financial challenges, 68% of respondents reported being uncomfortable talking to pharmacists about them, and 47% reported being uncomfortable talking to their doctor.